The concept of resonance occurs frequently in nature. It is part of a number of theories in physics and engineering and can seem complicated.
But even children understand it intuitively. My favorite example is an adult pushing a child on a swing. Suppose the adult doesn’t pay attention to coordinating their pushes with the movement of the swing. Sometimes their push is late. So the child doesn’t get the full effect of the effort the adult is putting in. Or their push is early and they actually slow down the swing.
But when the adult coordinates their push with the movement of the swing, their push has the maximum effect and the swing really goes.
What does this have to do with the management of information technology. After studying many cases, I see a pattern of Resonance. When Resonance occurs, companies align their business strategies and operations, their organizational structures and management practices and their use of information and information technology. When full alignment, or Resonance, occurs, then all aspects of the company work in harmony and produce the maximum effect on business results. As the child would say, now the swing is really going!
The business strategy of Wal-Mart is “Everyday Low Prices”. To enable the low costs required by Everyday Low Prices, in the U.S. Wal-Mart locates their stores in suburban locations (lower property costs) near intersections with highways (reduced shipping costs). They carefully plan and manage investments and usage of IT to support information-based decision making to assure that merchandise is ordered early enough, but not too soon.
By contrast, Zara (a division of Inditex) focuses on the fashion apparel and has created a supply chain that can take an idea to clothing in their stores in as little as three weeks. They focus on quickly gathering information about fashion trends from the market, have vertically integrated factories so that they control what is manufactured when and logistics that focuses on rapid delivery to stores in the heart of cities, where fashion conscious customers are likely to shop.
Both companies have achieved Resonance, but for very different products and markets. Both have balanced business, operational, organizational and information technology to achieve their business results. Both have Resonance.