I had a fascinating conversation with a CIO the other day. He was complaining about how users at his company were running roughshod over corporate systems and networks.
The most recent problems came to light when a network failure cut off e-mail and Web access throughout the company's far-flung operations.
Instead of simply calling it a day, creative employees quickly implemented workarounds. One group installed a quick and dirty Wiki to enable team communications.
Another took advantage of America Online Inc.'s Instant Messenger application to route files and messages between geographically remote employees. Others used Web e-mail and wireless networking to keep the company's business flowing.
The CIO's response was predictable: He moved quickly to lock down corporate desktops and laptops to prohibit users from installing unapproved software or accessing unsupported Web services.
Needless to say, the responsibilities of CIO are different from those of other people who do the real work. Everyone tries to save their skin. What if these tools indeed create a security risk that will result in a major problem for organiazation? The overall optimization suffers because different parts of organization are not acting in sync.
And that is the real challenge: How do you let your daughter to go out late in the night, and yet be worried about her safety? Something can still be done here: You can be liberal by nature. But in a large organization, with different people having different visibilities, it proves to be quite a difficult task.
Those companies which enable the right culture will obviously thrive!