Category Archives: Strategy
A while back I posted a poll to gauge how effectively change management was being used to deliver IT projects. The results of that poll, while not surprising to me, point to a concern that should be addressed. You can see from the image to the left that change management isn’t a focus of many projects and that those projects end in failure. Of the over 7000 respondents, 40% didn’t have any element of change management and the projects were deemed a failure.
I have often spoken, written and practice that for IT projects to be a success, they need to be rooted in strategy. That being said, it’s imperative that change management is a part of that strategy. Be sure to include a discussion on change management at the onset of your strategic planning exercise and ensure that it is embedded a process throughout implementation.
People often think that change management is something to be done at the end of a project, if it’s done at all. This approach of tacking change management on at the end of an initiative is sure to cause bumps in your project deployment. The technology is often the easy part of any implementation, with the people part and gaining acceptance being much more challenging. While this is true, we often see the exact opposite in technology projects, where most of the attention is given to the technology, and the end-users are a secondary thought. On your next IT project, work to bring more balance to that effort and ensure that adequate attention and planning are given to managing the change that is being introduced to your organization. After the initiative has been completed, be sure to go back and measure how well you did not only in the technical aspects of the project, but also in the areas of change. If you do this, you will see the successes of your IT projects increase and that will make everyone in your organization happy.
I have an exciting blog post about the do’s and don’t of change management as it relates to IT projects. Before releasing that post, I’d like to get some input from you regarding your experience of the effective use of change management to ensure the success of IT initiatives. I appreciate the feedback/input.
I’ve chatted before in my podcasts about the changing nature of IT groups within companies and thought I’d write a brief post about this emerging and important trend. Too often, I still find within organizations that IT resources are being purposefully kept as merely “break fix” resources, distant from the realities of the business and intentionally act as blockers rather than enablers to the business. Those organizations allow the IT leadership to perpetuate an older paradigm of IT where they were gatekeepers of technology rather than business partners within the organization, thought police rather than thought leaders.
This dated model of IT has been radically (and thankfully) changing within companies today where IT is viewed as a strategic asset rather than a necessary evil. Progressive IT leaders work hard to make their IT resources champions of innovation within organizations to ensure that business goals and objectives can be supported. We’ve all heard about the “consumerization of IT” – the idea that consumer technology (like iPads) is being brought into organizations and is driving what IT needs to support. This is true, but there is another exciting aspect to this trend. That is the “technifying of consumers“!
By technifying of consumers I mean this, that our end users in organizations are more sophisticated than they were before. They are more technical from the point of view that they leverage technology in numerous ways outside the organization. My strategic approach has always been to learn from my clients or the organization I’ve joined with regard to their business. The end user is always going to know more about the business than an IT person. The end user is the subject matter expert and now that they’ve been technified, as an IT leader I have this wonderful opportunity to recruit them into the strategic IT planning cycle. Today’s end users will brainstorm great ideas to how different technology can be used to enhance their business. That is a fantastic paradigm as it sets up progressive organizations to realize exponential value from IT.
You may recall that I wrote a piece back in September titled Identifying and Managing IT Risk. That article was well received and sparked some good discussion both here on the blog and amongst my clients. I also polled readers and found that 10% of them had a risk strategy for IT in their organizations, while another 10% had the strategy and were in the process of implementing. Even more encouraging was 30% of respondents who were in the process of developing a strategy now. One of the key points of feedback I got from the 40% that were still in the strategic phase/just starting implementation, was how to get their arms around the long list of risks that had materialized. As I’d suggested pulling together a risk inventory, many of them had done similar exercises, but were now faced with the daunting task of figuring out “where to start”. Time, budget, and resources are all limited and not everything can be started at once. Through the strategic process people begin to ask “What steps do I take in mitigating identified IT risk?”
That’s a great question. It ensures you don’t just run off and start at the top of your list or worse, in some reactive fashion just focusing on the latest fire. In today’s blog post I will provide you with a way to take your identified risks and do some analysis on them.
Amongst the many emerging technology trends of 2011, cloud computing has increasingly been mentioned in mainstream media. While not being a completely new technical paradigm, cloud computing has become strategically relevant to companies that span numerous industries. The term cloud computing, in my opinion, is a vague and misleading term. Historically “cloud” refers to the pictorial icon that network engineers use when representing “the internet”. When drawing any type of network architecture that involved the internet, a fluffy cloud was used to represent the ever increasing plethora of networks that make up the Internet.
I don’t like the use of cloud because it betrays the real value that businesses can realize by embracing this technical paradigm. Clouds are nebulous, immaterial and unstable things. The services that are now available for companies within the manufacturing industry are the complete opposite of those traits. Rather than using the term cloud computing, I prefer to use the term adaptive computing. Understanding this new paradigm can provide cost saving and growth opportunities for companies within the manufacturing sector. There is a real potential for manufacturers to leverage adaptive computing to provide them with flexibility in the way they procure and operate technology.
- the launch of the iPhone 4s
- RIM’s catastrophic global outage leaves it with a black eye
- Strategic Perspective: Make IT a Revenue Driver Inside Your Organization
I hope that you find the topics today to be entertaining, informative and thought provoking.
To listen to today’s show, simply click the link below.
This is an excerpt from my upcoming book Actionable Strategy: How IT Transforms Traditional Strategic Planning which focuses on the changing nature of strategic planning in light of the disruptive technologies that permeate every industry.
It has been my experience that strategic planning has always gotten a bad rap. Strategy has often been viewed as a theoretical exercise, a make work project, that yields a lofty plan that is placed on a shelf to collect dust. The sad reality is that in many respects, strategic planning has earned that bad rap. I’ve been inside numerous organizations where past strategic attempts have results in exactly that scenario. From an IT perspective, which is where I’ve focused most of my strategic engagements, grand plans have often been developed only to find no foothold within the organization to begin adding any value. I started asking myself the question “why” many years ago. Why is it that strategic planning seems to yield so little result in many circumstances? About 6 six years ago, I realized that IT strategic planning was missing an important element, namely, a solid connection to the business it found itself in. There was often a disconnect between the business and the IT group. Any strategy produced in this kind of silo approach was doomed for failure.
At the time, I refined my approach to delivering strategy to ensure that it began and ended with the business and the goals of the business. I took the huge cookie cutter approach methodologies and created a series of tool kits that were rooted in understanding an organization and its business. I called my approach at the time Business First Strategy to reflect the mindset that IT could not be viewed strategically, until a solid understanding of the business needs were established and supported. In time, I refined my approach to take into account a new dimension that began to emerge back in 2008. Strategic planning exercises simply took too long. The longer the time frame, the higher the risk that the strategy would fail. This was true for a number of reasons:
- stakeholder would come and go. Organizations changed and often you’d have to deal with different people.
- the business environment changed before you could finish the strategic planning exercise and people would get discouraged that they were dealing with a moving target
- the cost to deliver a big bang approach strategy was difficult to justify and if such an exercise did begin, the strategic objectives needed to provide huge ROI to justify the process in the first place
Taking those factors into consideration, my approach to strategic planning for IT built off of my previous work, but endeavoured to chunk planning done into smaller pieces of work. Each piece of strategic work would have to standalone and produce value on its own. That value, if proven to be true, would drive further future strategic engagements. I called this approach Rapid Strategy, which allowed me to deliver strategic IT plans to organizations within a 90-day period. This was a real breakthrough moment for me and the many client’s I was privileged to work with. It allowed me to take my initial toolkit approach and find ways (processes and technology) to accelerate the process. It’s a “do it fast” and “uncover surprises fast” and “make adjustments fast” and “realize value fast” approach.
Now in 2011 it seems that the strategic planning approach needs to evolve once again. It’s a natural evolution that has been occurring, but has now been accelerated because of the environment we are finding ourselves in. The progression has been to take strategic planning from a step-by-step cookbook approach, first to an approach rooted in business needs, then to an approach that was faster and now, for the next step in strategy, to transform it into an approach that retains the value in the first two iterations but added a much-needed third component. What is that component?
I first began to realize that something was missing when I observed what happened to strategy I’d done after I’d delivered it to an organization. In some cases, I stayed involved at the organization’s request and we observed that real and expected value began to be realized from the strategy. In some cases I remained with organizations through to the completion of the implementation of strategic plans, and again, there was value. There were instances, however, where I was not involved in the implementation of strategy, only to find out later that the organization hadn’t realized the value they’d hoped for.
It’s nice to be back into the swing of things after being off all last week. Took me a day, but after spending some time going through emails and my “to do” list, I am finally turning my attention to my blog posts for this week. I thought an appropriate spot to start a dialogue was about Amazon and their announcement last week of their entry into the tablet market with the Kindle Fire. It was met with a lot of excitement and there seems to be a healthy amount of pre-orderes already occurring.
So what are my thoughts? You may find it surprising (since I’m an Apple fan) that I think that Amazon has got it totally right. They did what no other tablet manufacture has done. They focused on the ecosystem rather than the device. Isn’t that what I’ve been saying all along? :-) It’s all about having a strategic core access point. That is what Amazon has done, not with the device, but with their Amazon Store and the various cloud-based services. That is their SCAP and they are clearly going to leverage that. The Kindle Fire itself is a rather uninspiring device – there have been other much stronger candidates. For example, the Playbook is a better piece of hardware, but they lack the ecosystem. Sure you get a nice piece of hardware from RIM, but nothing you can do with it. The flow of content and apps is fundamentally broken. This is what Amazon was striving to overcome and it looks like the may have succeeded. I’m sure that the Kindle Fire will be flying off the virtual shelves and that’s a good thing. I’m all for continued evolution in the tablet space – it benefits us all. The million dollar question, however, is….will this be the iPad killer?
- Windows 8 – I’ve had a chance to install the beta release and wanted to give some thoughts as to what I’ve seen
- IT Risk – expanding on a post I’d done earlier this week on risk and in preparation for an upcoming presentation I am giving on the topic, I discuss briefly this morning the importance of identifying and dealing with risk as it relates to technology within organizations.
I hope you enjoy today’s show! To give it a listen, simply click the link below.