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Complementary Opposites A Paradigm Utilized in Managing IT Excellence and Innovation

Akshay Lamba
Wednesday, September 1, 2010
Akshay Lamba
Business is frequently centered on the problem of balancing multiple contradictory goals. For example, an aggressive growth strategy for a people centric business and simultaneously ensuring quality of hires are problems that are typically identified as complementary opposites. Such issues typically have seemingly contradictory drivers; however, creating a working balance between them while driving both goals is a skill that most business leaders develop.

As per Sun Tzu, the principle of complementary opposites says that seemingly conflicting forces are actually two necessary sides of the same system. While we have taken a more deterministic and reductionist view of systems, Plato was the first to recognize that these linear methods have natural limits. The only way to get beyond them is the ‘dialectic’ of seeing the deeper truth that resolves an apparent conflict. As the modern physicist Neils Bohr put it, “The opposite of a fact is falsehood, but the opposite of one profound truth may very well be another profound truth…”
The balance between IT excellence and innovation is just such a paradigm. In order to appreciate this fact, let’s look at the drivers of both in isolation.

For any organization that focuses on IT excellence, the tools typically utilized are:

1. Enterprise Architecture as a planning and strategy discipline: IT departments now focus on designing Enterprise IT Architecture in a way that it aligns to the business strategy and not just immediate business needs, giving IT the strength to quickly adapt to dynamic business needs. It additionally has given the business confidence in IT to deliver and also increased the go-to-market time for businesses, giving them a competitive advantage.

2. Services Portfolio Management: Traditionally, IT is a service request fulfilment department where a list of requested services and changes would come in and the department spends time and energy in fulfilling those requests and then maintaining them. Through a services portfolio management framework, IT is able to deliver meticulous planning over a time period to deliver systems and services.

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