I am quite confused with the term 'over-alignment'. Do you have any clue what this might mean in the context of business or IT alignment? My speculation is that it is like putting too much focus on business strategy that a new technology cannot be introduced.

I am not quite sure about the term and there is not much literature that says 'over-alignment' in the context of business or IT alignment.

3 Answers 3


IT Alignment

[L]eaders must consult with others, building alignment of purpose through the hard, delicate, necessary work of careful consensus building.

-- Bob Lewis

"IT alignment" is business-speak for having an IT department that supports strategic business goals as the top priority over departmental goals. In my personal experience, this often boils down to supporting financial or sales objectives over sustainable IT infrastructure, but your mileage may certainly vary.

Many organizations seem to have an adversarial relationship with IT. Some of this may be because IT is often a cost center rather than a profit center, while some of it may simply be because keeping the servers running or the firewall tight is a different mission than that of the sales department.

Real alignment is when multiple departments share a common vision. Weasel-speak alignment is when the CFO directs the IT Director to poke holes in the corporate firewall so that Joe in sales can access his one-off desktop database from the field rather than using approved, secured, and managed corporate applications such as the company's PostgreSQL database.


I couldn't find a source that talked about over-alignment. Perhaps you'd like to provide us one for proper context.

With that said, the CIO, CTO, and other IT executives have a core responsibility that isn't just to say "yes" to the rest of the organization. IT exists to support the business mission, but it is also generally responsible for systems security and stability. This occasionally involves saying "no" to something that would compromise the mission, or offering alternative technical solutions for a business objective.

Mordac, the Preventer of Information Services is a great example of what can happen when IT is not aligned with the business. However, over-alignment is also possible. For example, replacing a reliable Linux server farm with the new Windows 2032 Greed Edition (blowing IT's software, training, and labor budget in the process) because someone on Mahogany Row saw an article about it in a magazine is another Dilbertism, and a great (if admittedly contrived) example of over-alignment.


To be honest, I've never heard about over-alignment until know, but I did some digging. Your speculation is true, because we are talking about over-alignment when management favours one specific action over another.

For example, if an organization that has strict policies about success and its communication, one cannot really perform proper innovation and experimentation, because these actions may fail, which is not allowed by the policies. In other words, in this example, the alignment is over at the side of control.

If you are still interested in the topic, google the word misalignment, because that is the proper terminology.

I used the following sources: source1 and source2.


Never heard of "over alignment." There are some good definitions of business IT alignment but to my knowledge none refers to over alignment.

There are experts who believe that business IT alignment is difficult: "Alignment, apparently, is a rare thing." http://www.cio.com/article/32322/Sound_Off_Why_Is_Business_IT_Alignment_So_Difficult_

There are experts who believe that the goal of business IT alignment cannot be met: "No business will ever reach the goal of “business and IT alignment”." http://www.cioindex.com/article/articleid/18/7-steps-to-business-and-it-alignment

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