Marshall Pinkard, president and CEO of FMB&T, a growing California-based regional commercial and consumer retail bank, clicked on an e-mail from Ayishia Coles. Ayishia was the bright, hard-working, self-confident woman who'd recently come onboard as the bank's executive vice president and chief information officer. The fact that the person in Coles's position in the company's traditional vertical organization now reported directly to him and was a full-fledged member of the executive committee reflected FMB&T's recognition of just how important information technology was to all aspects of its increasingly competitive business. The successful, leading-edge banks were the ones using information technology not only to operate efficiently, but also to help them focus more effectively on customer needs. Marshal settled back to read what he expected would be a report on how she was settling in. He was sadly mistaken.
After a few months on the job, Ayishia Coles was frustrated. What she needed from him, she wrote, was a clear statement of Kw responsibilities and authority. The way Ayishia saw it, the relationship between information technology and the bank's other business units was muddled, often causing considerable confusion, friction, and inefficiency. Typically someone from retail banking or marketing, for example, came to her department with a poorly defined problem, such as how to link up checking account records with investment records, and they always expected a solution the same day. What made the situation even more vexing was that more often than not, the problem crossed organizational lines. She found that generally the more work units the problem affected; the less likely it was that any single unit took responsibility for defining exactly what they wanted IT to do. Who, exactly was supposed to be getting all these units together and coordinating requests? When she tried Is step into the breach and act as a facilitator, unit managers usually didn't welcome her efforts.
Despite the vagueness of their requests, the work, unite still expected IT to come up with a solution- and come up with it quickly. All these expectations seemed almost calculated to drive the methodical IT, i folks mad. Before taking on a problem, they wanted I to make sure they thoroughly understood all of its, dimensions so that the solution would fit seamlessly, into the existing systems. This coordination took time that other parts of the bank weren't willing to give IT.
In addition, Ayishia knew the IT staff was increas¬ingly feeling underused. The staff wanted to identify opportunities for dazzling new IT developments to contribute to business strategies, but it found itself limited to applications work. Ayishia's greatest con¬cern was the president of a large regional branch who was actively campaigning to locate decentralized IT departments in each large branch under branch authority so that work would be completed faster to meet branch needs. He said it would be better to let work units coordinate their own IT departments rather than run everything through corporate IT. Under that scenario, Ayishia Coles's department could end up one-half its current size.
Marshall leaned back in his high-backed execu¬tive chair and sighed. At the very least, he needed to clarify Ayishia's authority and responsibilities as she had asked him to do. But he recognized that the new vice president was talking about a much larger can of worms. Was it time to rethink the bank's entire orga¬nizational structure?
1. What are the main organizational causes of the frustration that Ayishia Coles feels?
2. If you were Marshall Pinkard, how would you address both Ayishia's request for clarification
about her authority and responsibilities and the underlying problems her e-mail brings to his attention? Can the problems be addressed with minor adjustments, or would you need to consider a dras¬tic overhaul of the bank's organizational structure? What environmental and technological factors
would influence your decision?
3. Sketch a general chart for the type of organization that you think would work best for IT at FMB&T.
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