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Review: Eliminating ‘Us and Them’—Steve Romero

Ian Sharpe
June 4, 2012

Eliminating ‘Us and Them’: Making IT and the Business One by Steve Romero is a solid treatment on the effective governance of IT (not IT governance; Romero rightly calls out how this narrows accountability in organisations).

Most organisations are familiar with the divide that has evolved between IT and ‘everyone else’. ‘Shouting across the divide’ is not only hard work, but demonstrates a serious challenge to an organisation’s ability to effectively change and adapt: a crucial focus in 21st century business, particularly now.

Worse than that, the ‘shouting’ is often in differing languages, adding unnecessary frustration. Romero argues good common sense when he says this cannot continue, the investment and strategic governance of IT must be an enterprise one, not just left to IT. He concludes that eliminating the divide requires governance accountability—processes and behaviours—all firmly in place.

To address the ‘how’ he establishes a sound definition of governance, describes the history leading up to the ‘us and them’ situation between many IT divisions and ‘the business’ and then takes a deep (but enjoyable) trip through process and behaviours required for good governance.

The ideal readership of this book will be for those who want to do something about a lack of progress in establishing effective governance of IT: this will embrace a wide audience beyond the IT division itself, naturally.

As the book is about an organisational function, this has universal applicability across industry. Good governance can be established everywhere, as appropriate to the needs of the organisation.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book for its common sense and accessibility on governance of IT. While I vigorously nodded my way through most points Romero made, it was actually his introduction to Basil Wood’s description of governance that I found the most helpful of all:

“Governance is the system by which organizations are directed and controlled. It is essentially about leadership and involves overseeing the preparation of plans, overseeing the delivery of business change, overseeing operations, and overseeing the realization of benefits.”

I also liked the trifecta of governance, process and behaviour for effective return, however felt that far too much time was spent on wooing the reader to process, which left the behavioural component feeling rushed. I was drawn to this book because of that element and it just didn’t develop sufficiently to help executives implement the key behaviours around governance in their organisations.

This book is excellent for diagnosing governance health in IT and would be a terrific primer for those moving into executive roles with a governance accountability for IT. (Shouldn’t this be all of them, at this level?)

Project managers will attain validation from this book. I can see many IT project managers, program managers, PMO managers, and portfolio managers nodding heads and saying ‘that’s right, we told you this’.

Eliminating ‘Us and Them’: Making IT and the Business One
By Steve Romero
RRP US$20.99 (ebook), US$29.99 (print)
Published by CA Press (purchase online)

Ian Sharpe
Ian Sharpe is a respected professional in the fields of project leadership and capability development. He has worked with a wide range of global organisations as a senior adviser on portfolio, program and project excellence, helping them build their internal capabilities by providing sustainable and effective development programs for staff.
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One thought on “Review: Eliminating ‘Us and Them’—Steve Romero

  1. Hi Ian
    Thanks for the “heads-up” about this book. I have been fortunate to hear Steve speak on a couple of his visits to Australia, and he certainly a Governance expert, so I will be buying his book.

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