Management Information Systems Quarterly


Increasingly, business leaders are demanding that IT play the role of a business partner and a strategic enabler. In such an environment, IT human capital has assumed considerable significance. Insightful IT leaders recognize that the greatest impediments to success are often related to people rather than to information, technology, and systems. What is not quite clear to IT leaders, however, is exactly how to develop and leverage this human capital in support of business needs. The transformation of IT from a back-office support role to a strategic business partner requires new roles and competencies for IT leaders and professionals. Key challenges for IT leaders are to envision these roles and competencies and to develop and implement programs to translate this vision to reality. This paper describes the IT human resource vision that is guiding such a transformation at 3M—a large multi-product, diversified manufacturing firm (1998 sales: $15 billion)—and focuses on the implementation of its leadership initiative. This initiative was instrumental in not only allowing 3M to develop needed skills and behaviors among its IT professionals, it also helped 3M evade an industry-wide recruitment and retention trend. The major conceptual models guiding the leadership initiative as well as implementation details are presented. Challenges encountered on the way and the lessons learned from the journey are discussed. 3M’s experiences provide opportunities for managers in other organizations to develop valuable insights regarding the management of human capital in IT.