The Reason Doris Day Is Not An IT Leader
In my opening remarks at Pink12 a couple of weeks ago I said we need better leadership in IT Service Management. Here’s why ....
Do you let your employees decide what IT equipment to use?
Do you allow your competitors to talk to your customers?
Do you permit total strangers to decide where your data is stored?
A few years ago these questions would seem ridiculous. Today the answer to all of them is “Yes!”
Through consumerization and the bewildering distribution of IT services everywhere across the Web and in the Cloud – corporate IT is evolving. We don’t just manage large, stable, internal IT infrastructures any more.
I believe the ITSM professionals in many organizations are not thinking enough about this evolution. There is still a big gap between where many of us currently view the role of ITSM, and where it should be.
“IT 1.0” (internal, fixed & expensive) is evolving into “IT 2.0” (anywhere, dynamic & cheap) - and we need to start paying attention.
We can’t claim this is a surprise, otherwise this would be a revolution not evolution. The first indications came a long time ago - with Mobile IT. From ITSM’s perspective it was easy just to look the other way. At best we lazily threw some quick policies in that direction, such as “Approved devices only ….” or “Don’t do that!” And we secured the networks.
But as our users and customers became ever more knowledgeable and demanding they also became ever more mobile and resourceful. They bought their own stuff; configuring and supporting it themselves. Many of these services can be activated almost instantly, and some are even available for free. So, how can we resist?
Now, with Mobile IT, Cloud IT & Social IT we see that IT 2.0 is coming of age. Huge amounts of services - not just infrastructure - are now outside of our control.
So what does this really mean? Well, I have two more questions:
Question #1: Do you understand the risks, and are you managing them?
The risks of increased data insecurity because of loss of control. The risks of potential brand damage because everyone has an opinion and can express it. The risks of lost productivity because of a distracted, unsupervised or unsupported workforce.
If you need examples, there’s plenty.
How many more times are we going to hear about personal data being compromised when a careless employee leaves a portable device in a taxi-cab?
And type “QANTAS social media” into your search engine and see what pops up. Or “TripAdvisor social media”, or “MacDonald’s social media”, or “Toyota social media”. All of these prominent organizations have IT 2.0 disaster stories to tell. Some are self-inflicted and others caused by 3rd party mischief-makers. But they’re still risks that existed, and went un-heeded. If we’d still been in the IT 1.0 world - someone in IT Service Management would have shouted “computer error!” But you can’t do that with IT 2.0 because now what happens in IT, no longer stays in IT. It’s out there for all to blog, tweet, read and talk about.
And there’s more disasters on the way – just as long as we stand back and let them happen. People just love IT disasters, especially IT people!
In the world of IT 1.0 we did risk management and came up with creative solutions & services to help our business. But who’s doing that with IT 2.0?
Question #2: Do you understand the opportunities, and are you seizing the right ones?
The opportunities to actually increase security, and uptime. The opportunities to reduce costs or increase worker productivity. The opportunities to engage positively with customers and enhance your brand or standing in the community.
Wake up! IT 2.0 is here to stay. Get used to it and give it some attention. The genie is out of the bottle. These technologies cannot be un-invented – and they shouldn’t be. You need to learn about them, so you can manage the risks and opportunities.
Doris Day may have sung “Que sera, sera” – but she didn’t work in IT, you do!
I know there’s a lot to think about here. The good news is if you’ve worked in IT Service Management for a while you likely already have the skills to be able to tackle these issues. Just stop thinking IT 1.0 and increase your knowledge of IT 2.0.
What strategy should we go with? Research, think, decide and act!
What are the risks of doing this or that? Research, think, decide and act!
What are the risks of doing nothing? Research, think, decide & act!
What kind of opportunities might we be missing? Research, think, decide and act!
What policies should we set? Research, think, decide and act!
So when I say “IT Service Management needs to evolve” - how should this happen?
Let’s take a step back for a second.
ITIL tells us to pay attention to the 4 Ps - People, Process, Products & Partners (whoever came up with the idea of linking key components with a common capital letter was just being a bit opportunistic I think – but it does get our attention). While Tools (the Product P) and Suppliers (the Partner P) are clearly important – as well as Processes, you cannot be assured of success just by making good choices in those areas. The People component is the real linchpin here, and that’s what I want to talk about now.
For me it always starts, and sustains, because of People. Frameworks provide useful guidance, consistency of approach and some good options and ideas - but that’s just knowledge. To generate worthwhile results we need to look to the People component; execution; and the quality of leadership in particular.
With decent leadership we can work within any Culture and Structure, on any Strategy, and still deliver worthwhile results.
So I’d like you to step forward and lead. You can do it, you really can! Don’t confuse authority with leadership, or leadership with management. Anyone can lead, you don’t need approval, or a title.
Good leadership is about influencing and helping others to achieve a common goal. A vision can come from anywhere, but a good leader communicates and reinforces the vision; and helps others to act in accordance with it.
We already have some good leaders in IT Service Management. Many of them come along to Pink Conferences and share their stories. But I’d like to see more evidence that our leaders in ITSM can embrace the challenges and opportunities of IT 2.0.
Corporate IT is no longer the sole provider of IT services to the business. These services are out there in the ether, on the Web. Being dreamt up by innovators who don’t work for us and who sometimes don’t even know where they’re headed! These new services are being tried out by everyone – often without a goal in mind. They’re just experimenting. Much falls by the wayside, but some of it sticks. And some of it can be incredibly valuable. If only we’d open our eyes and recognize the opportunities. Our business needs people to lead the way! That’s what I’m getting at here.
As a worker in Corporate IT I urge you to step forward and show some leadership. Learn about IT 2.0 and encourage your co-workers to do the same. Research, think, decide and act! Evaluate the risks and opportunities. Talk with your subordinates, peers and managers – and start to make some decisions.
Remember, good leaders are made, not born. So if you need to improve your leadership skills, do it!
1. Observe, listen and understand - get yourself informed.
2. Then talk, consider and decide – on actions.
3. And inform, influence and empower – those around you.
Be an IT Service Management leader. Help your organization to understand how IT 2.0 is here to stay, and needs proactive attention.
Leave “Que sera, sera” to Doris Day.
Thanks, David, for sharing your views. I look at the trends, which you listed on the top of the post, sometimes as cries for help from the business community when the services we provide from IT fall short of what the business needs. Granted, the customers may not always be right all the time, but we, the IT practitioners, can certainly “step up to the plate” and do more leading than being led.
Personally, I was quite inspired by the post.Posted by David Lowe on 03/08 at 04:49 PM
I’ve always felt that not having the answers to questions is not the real problem. It’s ignoring questions when they’re staring us in the face! The “questions” we face today are coming at us from the changing culture of our IT user base. Compared to just a handful of years ago, people now have way more control over what they use, and how they use it. So what do we WANT to do about this? Anything? Or nothing?
For me the primary purpose of corporate IT is to help the organization become efficient at its core business activities. Usually that has meant providing accessibility to data and functionality. “Here’s a way to take some data and do something useful with it” (maybe allowing us to sell more of what we make, for example). In the past this was all done using corporately provisioned infrastructure. But now the organization’s workers - and customers - have many other resources available to help them achieve their objectives. So, if you work in corporate IT you can do one of two things:
1) Sit back and eventually become irrelevant. At best simply have your scope narrowed to the point where you’re an IT procurement function for stuff that will always be done in-house (remember when IT only provided number crunching “services” to the finance & payroll departments?)
2) Acknowledge the cultural shifts that are taking place and play a part in steering the organization through the risks and opportunities.
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