Most of us are in the middle of a transformation of some sort in our organisations (and for many of us, in our lives). How can we ensure that we transform successfully?
Change Management / Opinions
What should IT be paying attention to above all else? How about our organisations' potential for human effectiveness?
A CIO said I was like the guy who turned up the day after hurricane Katrina -- I come in when technology transformations fail.
I am delighted to see an increasing focus within Government on efficiency and effectiveness. At the same time, however, we have some government agencies that seem to have completely missed the boat when it comes to how an efficient and effective public service might be enabled.
My dismay comes from the fact that while some agencies are retaining or putting in place CIOs that report at the second tier in the organisation; some are disestablishing or pushing the function significantly down the organisational structure. This causes a disconnect between the strategic level of the organisation and the Information Technology and Information Management function, which should be enabling this strategy.
The worst CIO misunderstanding about service-oriented architecture (SOA) is thinking of it as only another technical initiative for software reuse.
Although SOA's reuse potential is real and good, its business impact goes much further: In Forrester surveys, 38 percent of Global 2000 SOA users say they are using it for strategic business transformation. SOA's true source of power is in its business design models, not its technology - and this means that SOA provides a broad foundation for a much larger shift in business technology (BT) architecture that goes far beyond SOA itself. By correctly understanding SOA, CIOs can lead their organizations on a solid and well-managed path toward a strategic technology future and greater business value.
Whether the desire is to cut cost, support a new strategic direction or respond to significant change in the market, all too often an organisation’s first response is to restructure. Restructures often look sensible and even painless at the “Power-Point level”.
However, deep in the organisation where the work gets done, confusion, missed opportunity, loss of talent and waste can abound.
In the well-known management book Built to Last, co-authors Jim Collins and Jerry Porras pose the question: Why do some corporations last so long while others struggle to get by or quickly fade away?
The pair seek answers by studying 18 successful United States companies and comparing their performance with that of a competitor which is not doing so well. One of the book's insights is that each of the visionary companies established a set of core values from infancy and never wavered from them, even in hard times.
It takes a brave person to tackle a hard challenge because these are likely to be thankless tasks. The chance of failure is high so you might spend a lot of effort getting nowhere. Why risk your career or reputation on something so difficult?
Yet, for some people, a challenge makes a task more compelling.
Recently, I came across a white paper that arguing that at its heart, the IT department was all about change. It contended that most costs in IT essentially relate to implementing change and the subsequent management of it. Moreover, the article stated that, since many of the ITIL processes relate to IT change in its many manifestations, by helping an organisation better manage such shifts, it is possible to use change metrics to determine the ROI in the implementation of ITIL.
The article was the result of a brain storming session among a group of American CIOs who were looking at how they could argue an effective business case for the adoption of ITIL. The discussion highlighted that where IT staff members spend their most time usually revolves around change. The CIOs recognised that when something goes wrong, the resolution typically begins by focusing on what is different. The CIOs then agreed that it is possible to quantify change in IT operations through three key variables: the number of requests for change (RFC); the number of changes actually made and the number of releases that are implemented (a release was defined as a batch of changes grouped together that entailed build, test and implement processes).
I’ve been reading a lot recently about organisations undertaking major IT modernisation projects; ie, replacing legacy systems. Modernising a legacy environment is technologically challenging, but also culturally difficult. The changing nature of IT has and will continue to have a dramatic psychological impact on the enterprise’s greatest historical asset — its people.
Most organisations have a wide variety of applications in their portfolios. A substantial number of legacy applications were built or acquired over many years or decades. The mix is likely to include applications licensed from software vendors, along with solutions that were custom-developed by internal staff or third parties. Somewhat reflecting the various types of applications, application professionals often cluster into five dominant personas.
Among the digital changes in the Copyright Act, which will come into effect later this year, there is some protection for “ISPs” against claims for breach of copyright. Many companies and public sector entities come within that “ISP” definition.
With the protection come obligations and the need for systems to handle copyright infringement.
Most days the modern chief information officer faces climate change issues: changes to the business climate and environment driven by fluctuating economies, tighter regulation and compliance, ever more complex business structures, human resource issues - the list goes on. It is a vortex environment that requires a wide palette of skills. To keep pace with the growth, speed and complexity of operating in such a vortex , CIOs have morphed into technical specialists with strategic and visionary skills, and are turning their attention to the challenge of developing more robust risk-management strategies and policies.
In the "bad old days", technical specialists were not considered part of the strategic management team but merely part of the back office of the business. The focus was on creating technology solutions as requested by the company. Typically, this used to involve getting a specification brief, then retreating to the basement to spend the next eight to 20 months working to produce something that met those specifications.
It was difficult not to detect shades of the PR handler when Paul Collingwood faced his interrogators Wednesday evening, following the shameful episode of The Run-Out That Wasn't.
For those that don't follow cricket, England captain Collingwood surely went against the spirit of the game by calling for a New Zealand batsman to be given out after the Kiwi had run into a member of the opposing team and, as a consequence, failed to make his ground. The incident sparked angry scenes and many thought it just when New Zealand went on to win the game.
Each morning, after checking my urgent messages, I take a few minutes to read a daily e-mail from one of my suppliers. Normally very entertaining, these e-mails typically discuss industry trends or pitch a new product.
Today, the authors decided to opine about IT and specifically the management of IT. They noted how hard it is to get a great CIO - someone who can speak the language of business and do IT well. Given the shortage of such CIOs, the authors recommended that more IT work be outsourced and that whatever remains be pushed out to the business units. They concluded by saying that IT could be a profit center only if it was located in the business units and that therefore the best IT is decentralized.
Over the last 20 years, as the CIO role has changed, the competencies required to succeed have changed, as has the level of performance expected for CIOs to be successful. And it's getting harder for CIOs to distinguish themselves as outstanding.
As noted by Carl Wilson, 20 years ago the focus of IT was on technology only, and that technology was fragmented. The key priority for IT managers was keeping all those wonderful mainframes, minicomputers and PCs happily running in their own little worlds. Even within IBM's world, 3081s did not talk to AS/400s and definitely did not talk to PC-XTs. Thus, a limited number of relatively low-level competencies were all that was required to succeed: Functional technology expertise with a dose of results orientation, a dash of team leadership and a sprinkling of people development expertise.
Stretched between managing their environments and delivering on new enterprise requirements, most CIOs report “not enough” time or resources as one of their key challenges.
As innovation becomes the mantra within their enterprises, CIOs are being asked to focus on the new things. This is difficult to do if you are concentrating more than half your time on what you have always done.