Thursday, September 29, 2011
We have a growing list of suggestions for you for apps to install on your Droid or iPhone to equip yourself for the Las Vegas confernce next year. So far the “apps4Vegas” we have are PinkAPP, Twitter, Color, and Skype. Here’s another one, or more precisely two: Facebook and GooglePlus.
The cognoscenti of social technologies would say they are quite different, but I have a problem here. I don’t like Facebook, I’ve almost never used Facebook, and now I never will. I don’t like the attitudes, behaviour or culture of Facebook Inc; I don’t like the way people use Facebook; and I don’t like being a “friend” of someone I had to work with because someone paid me to. So I’m told that Facebook is a powerful platform for sharing whilst you are at the conference: photo posting, knowledge sharing, location awareness… If you like Facebook, good on you. Go for it. You have lots of company.
Me I use GooglePlus, (or Google+ or g+), even if it is not as richly featured as Facebook ... yet. I really believe that Google - by corporate standards - “don’t be evil”. (I feel the same way about Pink). I don’t have to call people my “friend”, I have good control over who sees what, and there is room for a good discussion, unlike Twitter which is like boxing in a phone-booth. Nevertheless I’m still working out exactly how g+ sharing works, and I don’t spend that much time there because it is a bit cumbersome on a smartphone - I need a full screen browser. And unfortunately the content is good. I say “unfortunately” because that means it is not the ten-second brain candy of Twitter - I have to give Google+ time, which I seldom have.
Nevertheless my preferred platform for sharing photos and learnings and new contacts from the 16th Annual ITSM Conference next year will be GooglePlus, even on my Droid. You can keep Facebook - and most of you will.
Sunday, September 25, 2011
Share The Value Of Your Conference Attendance
Two years back I was writing on this blog about the EHOBOK (Exhibit Hall Optimisation Body Of Knowledge), satirical advice for conference attendees. In it I said
This is the top priority activity after attending any conference. In a previous life, colleagues used to wonder how come I got to go to the world conference year after year? The answer was simple: the first time I went, I sent back breaking news while I was still there, ferreted out answers to particular issues we had in our region, and I produced a long report and a “brown bag” lunchtime presentation as soon as I got back. And I continued that every time I went. The bosses knew they got a return on their investment of sending me (I made sure they knew).
Make use of your Definitive Exhibit Library full of exhibitor bumph to remember what you saw and what the news is.
I want to extend this idea for you. There are a bunch of reasons why you should write up the results of your attending a conference:
- You owe it to those paying: package the value and deliver it back to them.
- Your colleagues will appreciate it if you share what you learned instead of hoarding it like some folk do. As a result, they may be a tiny bit less jealous.
- Knowing that you are going to share your notes makes you do a better job of them, for yourself as well as others.
- You will go to more sessions if you know you will be making a list of those you attended. It is easy to get tired at a conference and skip a few, but this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to capture this knowledge and meet these people. It is good to have something else driving you on.
- When you know others will be reading, it also tends to push you to go to a wider range of sessions. This benefits you too: it broadens your mind, and your skills. You never know when a new avenue of professional development will open up.
Monday, September 12, 2011
How and why Service-Now won the Pink Elephant 2010 ITIL Innovation award
George Spalding from Pink, Jerrod Bennett from Service-Now.com and I had a conversation recently about how Service-Now won the Pink Elephant ITIL Innovation Award, presented at the conference earlier this year. Learn about what the awards are, what the judges liked, how they tested Jerrod with the demo, what next for Service-Now, and the deadline for this year’s awards.
(My apologies for the sound quality on my mike. Luckily I didn’t say much and the two guys that matter came in loud and clear)
Conferences • Rob England • George Spalding • Permalink
What does Zucchini Bread have to do with an ITSM Project?
Back in May I was up north plotting out the vegetable garden with my son. He was going to be the on-site manager of the project; I was the sponsor – you know the one with the budget. We both had our own visions of what the garden should grow – he wanted peppers, tomatoes, onions and herbs while I was focused on the basics of potatoes, corn, carrots and other stable items. I suggested zucchini and after a lengthy pause for thought he agreed that although the vegetable in its natural state wasn’t too exciting, zucchini bread definitely held the requisite allure.
The garden was staked out and over the course of the next couple of weeks all the planned items found their plot in the space. The project was underway and visions of corn roasts, French fries, salsa, and pickles filled my son’s head. Like many projects, the kick off and start off was relatively easy compared to what lie ahead. It was exciting and new and drew a little fandom with friends and family.
Two main ingredients to a successful garden project are the watering and the weeding. In May in Northern Ontario, these things pretty much take care of themselves. It rains everyday it seems and the cooler temperatures don’t promote weed growth.
First challenge up was the visit from the non-supporters to our end objective. Critters showed up in the middle of the night and during unsupervised days, baby cabbage, parsley and carrots disappeared. Obviously the culprits didn’t share the vision of the end goal of fresh tender carrots lightly steamed and sprinkled with fresh parsley, or of a freshly shredded slaw. No worries. We survived the external attack, filled the gap with additional pepper plants and moved forward. We would get the better of the nay sayers.
Then the weeds started to propagate. The weather turned hotter and they flourished in the dry ground. The need to carry water from the rain barrels increased. Did I make it clear that the garden was just a special project? There was still a day job to be taken care of for the project manager. The day job got busier and distractions from the project were plentiful.
The zucchini plant had been thriving; thick and lush in its little corner of the garden. It was easy to ignore. The weeds were kind of hidden under all that foliage. A few blossoms appeared but that was it. All in all that plant was kind of boring. Couldn’t really see what it was doing. Visions of zucchini bread quite frankly had no appeal as the corn stalks seemed to visibly grow overnight; the potato hills sprouted blossoms, the onion bulbs burst out of the soil, and the peppers started to ripen to red. The tomato plants started to give a challenge and became an operational problem; needing constant tending, staking, watering, and weeding to protect their fragile state. They became the focus of the project. Those little green tomatoes emanated visions of lush red tomato slices adorning salads and burgers. Whereas that zucchini plant was just, well boring. And who really likes them anyway? Can’t we just buy some for the few times we need them? He actually stated once that he thought I was the only person in the world who actually liked zucchini and he wished he had planted pumpkins. We could have had them for Halloween. Doubting the vision at such a late stage! Didn’t he realize it was already late July and so much had already been invested?
As the sponsor I felt compelled to provide some additional leadership. He needed to be re-engaged and motivated toward the end goal. I talked to him about those zucchini resting under the cover of those leaves and how big they could get. They will be very impressive in the end. And everyone loves baked goods so they will love those zucchini. He refocused and gave the area a little extra weeding time and a little extra water during the summer heat wave.
The dog days of August were upon us. Potatoes were hoed from the ground and he was cooking all kinds of potato dishes for his friends. Tomatoes were picked fresh and sliced as ingredients for BLT sandwiches and numerous salads. Early cobs of corn were harvested and cooked. The initial vision of loaves of zucchini bread was being lost. The garden as a whole wasn’t even a top priority anymore. Planning the end of season canoe trip, fixing up his cottage bedroom, and the dirt bike trail all were competing for his time and energy. Oh, and the day job still had to be covered.
Last weekend, Saturday morning, my son took me out to the garden. Despite the look of those tall, mature corn stalks reaching skyward, the fragile tomato plants laden with sun ripened fruit, and delicate plants heavy with ripe peppers; he walked me over to those huge yet apparently empty vines. Parting the leaves he pointed at what may very well be the largest zucchini I have ever seen!
Holy Mackinaw! The design and build was complete. Were we ready to move to production and make use of those zucchini? We were about to execute on that vision of zucchini bread. Zucchini and pineapple loaf with walnuts and raisins. The recipe was consulted, a grocery list compiled, and utensils and cookware pulled from dusty cupboard corners. And a few hours later – voila! Four perfect loaves of zucchini bread cooled on the counter top.
The moral? There will be challenges a plenty along the route to the finish line. The forces of outsiders who don’t buy in will challenge you immensely. Conditions outside of your control will come into play and wreak havoc with your priorities. The project will waver in its focus and many things will appear to be the only ones of importance. The operational needs of your day job will challenge time and resources constantly and always provide a more immediate play for those scarce resources. There is absolutely always something seemingly more important, more profiled, more popular, and of seemingly greater pay off. Howerver - If the vision is intact and you have bought into it, you can survive the challenges and live to eat bread.
Monday, September 05, 2011
Measuring The Individual Response To Organisational Change
Continuing a persistent theme in recent Pink Elephant ITSM conferences and on this blog around cultural change, let’s talk about “Organizational Loss of Effectiveness” with Dr. Victoria M. Grady of the Columbian College of Arts & Sciences at George Washington University.
Many change initiatives fail because the focus is on the “change” itself, instead of on the implications for the individuals experiencing the change. It is counterintuitive that generally, change initiatives are implemented without first benchmarking the potential response of the individuals experiencing the change. This is the unique contribution of Dr. Grady’s Model of the Organizational Loss of Effectiveness (LOE), and the corresponding LOE Index.
The LOE Index identifies behaviors, perceptions, and attitudes that emerge in organizations as a response to change and that ultimately impact overall effectiveness. The index focuses on the employees, and how factors inherent in change affect their performance and subsequently have a negative impact the organization. I asked Dr. Grady about the LOE Index.
We IT folk love to measure things. Human factors such as culture and attitudes make us uncomfortable because they are so hard to quantify. I think one of the fascinations of your work is that you seem to provide a useful measure for us. Is that so?
Yes, the LOE Index is a quantitative measure that will access the organization’s predisposition toward change at the baseline (before the planning process), during (typically 2 to 4 weeks after the change has gone live), and after the implementation (4 to 6 months post implementation) is complete.
Where and how was the LOE Index developed? What brought it about?
The LOE Index is the culmination of 11+ years of research. The idea or original concept came to mind in my first class with Dr. Jerry B Harvey (he wrote the Abilene Paradox) in the summer 2001. However, my curiosity toward the topic began to evolve during my corporate experience in Alabama, Germany, Maryland, and Washington DC as early as 1997. It would seem that geographic, demographic and cultural differences did not play a significant role in how individual employees in varying organizations dealt with change—-technology change, leadership change, process change, location change, even physical space change—-each prompted similar responses.
How is the LOE Index used? Can we compare ourselves to other organisations?
The LOE Index is used to assess the organization’s predisposition toward change and then intermittently during the change process to track the progress of the change implementation and the impact of the change itself on the organization. Most organizations tend to be experiencing multiple changes at any given point in time, the LOE Index identifies problems or areas for concern—- morale, motivation, conflict, productivity, absenteeism (which is often not physical absenteeism—but mental or emotional), and turnover—a qualitative approach is then generally most efficient for identifying exactly which change or set of changes is the basis for the organization’s loss of effectiveness (LOE).
In terms of comparison, I would hesitate to say “yes” to that question—-the reason why is that I believe each organization is unique. It is the unique sum of the individuals that form the collective that is the basis for the results of the LOE Index.
How do we know what is “good”? Does the LOE give us any indication of whether we are handling change “well”’ or “poorly” relative to other organisations or to some external benchmark?
“Good” is unique to each organization. We ask that our clients help us define the benchmarks that are most relevant to the change and applicable to their organization before we administer the baseline, etc.. That gives us information that is very specific to that organization and maxmizes the success potential.
YES—the LOE Index absolutely identifies “how well” or “not so well” the organization is handling the change…. that is at the core of the value of the LOE Index to the change process. We provide the internal or external change consultant/agent with a real-time, defined, cost effective metric that will identify the challenging areas so that data can be utliized proactively to define the comprehensive change process.
This seems to be a general index for any organisation. Are there aspects special to an industry like IT?
The LOE Index is designed to be applicable to any type of organization and any type of change. With that said, we have found that the applicability to technology change is particularly relevant in that the response to technology change is truly based on the individual—-irrespective age, gender, position, role, etc.—- the generalized stereotypes for embracing technology change are truly not as widespread as one might think. Our work has conclusively validated that response to IT change is challenging to most organizations—-the caveat is that it depends on how much the individuals in the organization are “attached to” or “lean on” the technology being changed for support in completion of daily work tasks.
The LOE Index gives us a measure of resistance to change, is that right?
The LOE Index is not just a measure of resistance to change per se—- I like to say that the LOE Index identifies and then suggest methodology for mitigating the symptomatic response related to the resistance to releasing objects (people, technology, process, location, etc.) in the organizational environment that we are “attached to” or “lean on” for support in completing our organizational objectives.
What does the LOE Index tell us about encouraging successful change?
My experience with the LOE Index as a tool for creating comprehensive change strategy is, unfortunately, that when consultants, internal or external, try to collect this type of information utilizing qualitative assessments that the data collected is subjective, not necessarily repeatable, and often not reflective of the individual’s true feelings. Employees are more often than not, uncomfortable expressing true feelings in a qualitative or interview scenario of data collection. The perception that this data could be used “against” them is only the “tip of the iceberg” in terms of why qualitative data collection is less than optimal, not to mention expensive, for creating and tracking the organizational change process.
So what this tells us about implementing more successful change initiatives—-is that we need to collect our information “beneath the surface” collecting data without necessarily identifying the exact individual that supplied the information. And, create a collective picture of the individuals that are the organization and are directly impacted by the change using a cost effective, repeatable process that will measurably increase the success of the change initiatives.
Can we really measure people? Aren’t humans too complex, ambiguous, changeable and cussed to get a reading on them?
Yes, I do believe we can measure, NOT people, but their behavioral response to organizational change.
Are there other organisational metrics out there we should know about when assessing our cultural health, organisational strength and/or readiness for change?
There are several quantitative measures that I believe can be valuable tools in creating a healthy organizational environment. Some of those are:
b. Myers Briggs
c. Beck Depression Inventory
d. Hamilton Anxiety Scale
Dr. Grady is presenting details of her model and her LOE Index at the upcoming conference in two formats – a breakout session, which provides an overview of all key learning points, and if you’re looking for a more in-depth view she is also presenting a 1/2 day workshop format on Wednesday afternoon. Dr. Grady will provide a review of: the Model of the Organizational Loss of Effectiveness (LOE); the corresponding LOE Index together with a summary of why and how to assess seven symptoms – Global Assessment; Frustration; Apprehension/Anxiety, Retardation of Development, Refusal to Participate, Withdrawal, Rejection of Environment.