strategizes for organization's good
January 31, 2000
BY MICHAEL KRAUSS
rank and serial number: John C. Henderson, 52, Professor
of Management Information Systems and director of the Systems
Research Center at Boston University School of Management. Studied
organizational behavior in government as a young academic; now
an expert on Internet business strategy and partnerships. Wrote
"Strategic Alignment: Leveraging Information Technology for
Transforming Organizations," published in 1993 and picked
by executives at IBM last year as one of the most influential
papers on management and information technology in the last half-century.
"Not all relationships are the same. Different relationships
for different problems."
study partnerships? "It was an outgrowth of my interest
in organizational studies, systems theory and technology."
(Among his inspirations are anthropologist Margaret Mead, philosopher
Thomas Kuhn, economist Kenneth Boulding and the work of IT strategists
Warren McFarlan and Jim Cash.)
was the "Strategic Alignment" paper so important?
"Some organizations couldn't afford to hire the best IT professionals
and build state-of-the-art computer systems. They had to partner
to get the best. The paper signaled a shift in organizational
does an organization foster a long-term relationship?
Create mutual benefit, a joint commitment to processes and a predisposition
to trust and cooperation.
does an organization make it work day-to-day? Create
organizational links, assure there are distinctive competencies
and share knowledge and learning.
do marketers need to know about partnerships? "There's
a tendency to use the term 'partnership' when what you are really
doing is relationship selling. Partnership is not about building
a relationship with an individual so that you can sell
more-partnership is about creating an organizational capability
that enhances organizational value. If you're talking partnership
and living a transactional relationship, you could get into serious
are the Web's best partners?" Yahoo! does "quite
well. They really have their act together." Also, FairMarket
is "developing an understanding of how to work through relationships."
These companies focus on "what's core. They establish a portfolio
of relationships from transactional to true partnerships. (Partnerships)
are investments. You have to… ask yourself, 'What's the
ROI on the investment?' If the ROI is only increased sales and
not value creation, you should question what you're doing."
line? "The key is to understand what kind of relationship
you have and manage that relationship accordingly."
is a partner with Diamond Technology Partners in Chicago.
He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.