Kevin Pashuk

5 years ago · 2 min. reading time · visibility ~100 ·

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The most important post on strategy you will ever read.

The most important post on strategy you will ever read.that plans are useless,
but planning is indispensable.

Dwight D. Enennower

IT folks are busy people. Their typical workday doesn't fit in the 9-5 slot (equipment NEVER breaks down during the workday -  3 am being the preferred time.)

Busy is good, right? There's so much to do!


A wise IT leader should never, ever, confuse motion with progress.

You can be busy, but busy doing the wrong things.

So, how do you know how to work on the right things? Glad you asked.

Several years ago, Geoffrey A. Moore wrote a seminal book on technology adoption called Crossing the Chasm. This book was a tremendous resource in my days building a company providing software solutions. A few years ago, I found out that Mr. Moore did not retire to a sunny island with the proceeds of his hit book, but instead kept working away on following the technology industry. He was the advertised keynote speaker at a conference and I went to the conference specifically to hear him. While there were other excellent speakers, Geoff brought out the following slide which can (and should) change the way you think about prioritization.  

The most important post on strategy you will ever read.that plans are useless,
but planning is indispensable.

Dwight D. Enennower

There are a number of things in the world of IT that are non-mission critical, low risk to the organization if they aren't done, and do not differentiate your organization from its competitors in any meaningful way.

If you and your team are spending lots of time, energy and resources in this quadrant, I've found the obvious place you can find savings. Spending resources in this quadrant does not provide any meaningful benefit to your organization. Stop doing them! Just because you've "always done them" doesn't mean you should continue.

There could be low risk, non mission critical services or products that do differentiate your company. Keep up the support. Having them is core to your organization's success.

There are a number of tasks and services that we provide in an IT department that could be considered mission critical - your organization could not function without them. Networks, web sites, email, storage, backups, application development, break/fix, etc. could all fall into this category. These services are contextual, important but not differentiating.

Very important stuff. Right?

Not necessarily.

Let's take email for example. While your organization could not function without email being available and secure, does it give you any competitive differentiation from other organizations? Nobody buys products from Company X because you can reach their employees by email. Does this make sense?

There has been strong convergence of products and services (SaaS, Cloud Computing, hosted solutions) that will allow me as a CIO to ensure that mission critical services are available to my company, but without me having to necessarily provide that service from my team. While there might not be tremendous cost savings, there are a large number of benefits in allowing my team to focus their development and support on product and services that will differentiate us. This is core to our organization's success.

Let's go back to email. Microsoft has Office 365, which builds on its Live platform. (I know there are other platforms) With a simplified licensing model, I can ensure my users have access to some of the critical tools, on multiple devices, without the associated skills overhead, storage space etc. 

Everybody is working, not caring how or where their email is stored, as long as it's secure and reliable.

How do I as a CIO know what fits in which category? In my case, I look at the strategic objectives of my institution. We have already gone through the exercise of defining the things that make us different and define the value of our product - which is an exceptional education experience that provides the skills, literacies and competencies necessary for success in today's world. Any thing I do which supports and enhances our ability to deliver this would be considered core.

So, while we are still busy people, I have confidence that we are busy doing the right things.

This simple diagram has changed the way I approach IT strategy, how I staff my team, and most importantly, where we spend our resources. I hope it is as successful for you.

BTW... If you want to read the rest of Geoffrey Moore's book where this diagram comes from, it is available here.

This post was previously published by the author on LinkedIn

About the Author:

Kevin Pashuk is Chief Information Officer for Appleby College, in Oakville, Ontario Canada, where his team is transforming the delivery of education through innovative application of technology.

Kevin is convinced that IT leadership needs to dramatically change how IT is delivered rather than being relegated to a costly overhead department.

In addition to transforming IT in his role as CIO, he looks for every opportunity to talk about this... writing, speaking and now blogging on BeBee, LinkedIn (, ITWorld Canada, or at

He also is an avid amateur musician and photographer (but not at the same time).  Check out his photostream on Flickr  or on beBee hive: serious-amateur-photographers

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Kevin Pashuk

5 years ago #4

At my last position, I started a PMO. Still amazed at how many organizations could benefit from using PPM and other tools. Not everyone in IT works till 3... but since a component of what we do is service delivery, we have people who have after hours coverage in their job description. Must keep the network networking and the servers serving...

Dean Owen

5 years ago #3

Seriously important - but the CIO should work hand in hand with the PMO right? All these decisions should be the responsibility of the PMO coordinating with the business side. And someone please find me an IT person who works until 3am! I work until the birds tell me it is time to rest why shouldn't they once in a while! Thanks for the book recommend. Next stop, Amazon!

Kevin Pashuk

5 years ago #2

Thanks Ken Boddie There's a reason I let my team have a major say in equipment selection. When it breaks (not if), and they are trudging across the parking lot at 3 am (I don't know why this is the preferred time to break) they aren't swearing at me for making them buy that damn equipment. They only have themselves to chide.

Ken Boddie

5 years ago #1

Great objective, not just for you "IT folks", but for all of us, Kevin Pashuk may testify, the birds make way too much noise to concentrate at that time in the morning.

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