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David Ratcliffe, President, Pink Elephant

If you're interested in what we're doing here at Pink Elephant, then feel free to post a comment - I'll do my best to respond as quickly as I can.


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    Recent Entries

    Wednesday, November 22, 2017

    So What Might You Be Struggling With?

    If you asked a collection of Consultants to tell you what they believed their customers were struggling with, one of the most frequent replies might be something like “How to implement DevOps ...” or “How to implement Agile ...” or Lean, or ITIL, or IT governance, or cyber resilience, or whatever. Notice how each of these things are really just the “means” to something (delivering quality IT services), and not the “end”.

    From my experience, IT managers struggle to align their projects and activities with true, valuable business objectives and benefits. THAT is what I would expect to hear IT managers say they struggle with. Doing more, cheaper, and quicker than before!

    Of course having the right enablers (approaches, frameworks, methods, skills, technologies, etc), well configured and setup is going to make your efforts more effective and efficient. But first you have to know WHAT you’re trying to do, WHY and by WHEN. So my advice for the new year coming up is to make sure you clearly understand what the business objectives are, and how you and your teams need to focus on meeting those objectives. At that point you can start to look at all those enablers and figure out what will be helpful.

    We can do many things, but that’s not a good reason to do them! We do things because we SHOULD do them, not because we CAN.

    For example, if you saw the cops driving around in a Rolls Royce what would you think?

    It works, sure! It’s possible, sure! But does it make sense?

    We don’t do Lean, Agile, DevOps or even ITSM just because a Consultant says so. We do those things because they help us deliver quality IT services on time and at a reasonable cost. If they truly enable our objectives, great. If they don’t, then why do it?

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    Posted by David Ratcliffe on 11/22 at 03:50 PM
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    Friday, August 25, 2017

    It’s Almost PinkASIA17 Time!

    If you’re reading this from North America or Europe and your company has offices in Asia, please do you buddies there a favour and let them know that Pink Elephant has its annual best practices conference coming up in a couple of weeks - in KL, Malaysia.

    We’ve been doing events like this every year since July 1998 and in its current for this Annual IT Best Practice Conference & Exhibition is now in its 9th year!

    I’m looking forward to meeting up with old friends, and some new ones, once again this year. And from what I’m hearing from the team in our KL office - attendance has grown significantly this year. Always good to get those kind of messages!

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    Posted by David Ratcliffe on 08/25 at 11:47 AM
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    Thursday, July 20, 2017

    Integrated Service Management

    5 years ago we launched the “Leadership Forum” in Scottsdale, AZ in August. This year we’re switching things up a bit because of the need to address “Integrated Service Management” through the emerging practices of Agile, Lean & DevOps.

    The Lean Service Management Implementation Roadmap aims to provide a step-by-step guide for navigating this potentially complicated and confusing journey. Our brightest experts will be on hand to help with strinbg advice on each of the vital topics we have on the agenda. Check it out, and we hope to see you there!

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    Posted by David Ratcliffe on 07/20 at 03:34 PM
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    Friday, February 17, 2017

    21 & Still Counting!

    Heading off to Las Vegas for the 21st Annual ITSM Conference & Exhibition - or Pink17 as we like to call it.

    Hope to see you there!

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    Posted by David Ratcliffe on 02/17 at 02:12 PM
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    Wednesday, June 29, 2016

    5th IT Service Management Leadership Forum

    Dynamic keynotes plus 4 power-packed tracks of specialist sessions from your favourite Pinkers and our most valued industry experts. Yes - another must attend August event, the 5th Annual IT Service Management Leadership Forum!

    As I’ve said many times before (we presented our first August event in Scottsdale in 2000) Scottsdale is a great location with spectacular resorts, and the fact it’s in August should not put you off! Sure it’s a bit warmish, but we do the whole thing indoors and I believe they’ve had air conditioning there for quite some time now smile

    And let’s not forget, the fact it’s low season means it’s not too busy and we get great rates and the warmest of welcomes (in more ways than one)!

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    Posted by David Ratcliffe on 06/29 at 02:54 PM
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    Monday, February 08, 2016

    IT At The Speed Of Change - The Theme For Pink16

    Next week we’re achieving a major milestone in the history of Pink.

    Our Annual IT Service Management Conference & Exhibition - for the 20th time!

    Congratulations to us! And that means all the Pinkers who have been part of this successful venture over all these years since the first one in Toronto in December 1997. There’s been many hundreds of Pinkers, customers and guest speakers who’ve come together one year or another to help us deliver the industry’s #1 event on IT management best practices. Thanks to you all, and if you’re heading to the Bellagio next week please stop me, say “hello” and let me shake your hand!

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    Posted by David Ratcliffe on 02/08 at 08:55 AM
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    Tuesday, December 15, 2015

    The Books On My Desk

    Ask me a question, and this is what might happen!

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    Posted by David Ratcliffe on 12/15 at 04:51 PM
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    Thursday, November 19, 2015

    My Visuals For Today’s Leadership Talk

    Later this afternoon I will be speaking at “The Institute For Performance & Learning Conference & Trade Show” at the Toronto Convention Centre.

    Here’s the visuals I will be using to support my talk - “The Most Valuable Personal Characteristics For Leading Change”.


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    Posted by David Ratcliffe on 11/19 at 01:10 PM
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    Thursday, September 24, 2015

    My Visuals From “The 5 ITSM Projects You Should Start Doing Tomorrow Morning”

    I just finished the webinar, and here are the visuals I used. Feel free to download them:

    The session was recorded and it will be made available from Pink Elephant very soon. Watch for a further announcement and instructions!

    There was one question that I saw in the CHAT window only after we’d ended the session, it was from Sridhar Rao Patibandia:

    “What if my business has not clearly defined objectives? Or objectives that may not be aligned or benefit IT?”

    Good questions!

    I’d be surprised if your business does not have objectives defined for this year. You just need to know who to ask. In the instance that there are no objectives (which could be the case for a small business) then you have two choices:

    1. Go talk to the Executive Team and ask for this information (for a small business this may be possible). At least look for an opportunity to socialize with them the idea that you really should have some clear business objectives. I know this sounds a bit provocative, but only you will know if this is possible in your organization. If you feel the culture would support such a discussion, then go ahead. if not, try this ...

    2. If approaching the Executives is out of the question, then discuss with your peers what you THINK the business objectives could be. You’ll probably come close to figuring this out from recalling discussions, reports & communications from senior management. Only in a private company would the Executive team have secret objectives that they didn’t want to divulge. And this really is a very rare exception which, hopefully, is not the situation for you.

    If the business objectives are not aligned with the IT objectives, then your IT objectives need to change. That was the purpose of “Project 2” in my talk.

    If the business objectives do not “benefit” IT then - I’m sorry! The purpose of a business is not to serve IT, it’s the other way around. Maybe what you mean is “What if the business objectives are too much of a challenge for IT?” If that’s the case then you certainly will have a lot of work to do to review the vision, mission & objectives of IT to enable and support the business. But business objectives have to be accepted. In IT it’s our job to figure out how we can enable and support. Sure - you may not have all the resources you need right now, but that’s where strong IT leadership comes in to argue for the resources the team needs.

    Good luck!

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    Posted by David Ratcliffe on 09/24 at 01:08 PM
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    Monday, August 31, 2015

    2nd In The Series Of Leadership Articles: Vision & Objectives

    I’ve written about this before - the fact that most IT Managers are unable to tell me their current business objectives.

    So what exactly is the difference between a “Vision” and “Objectives”?

    Find out by reading this latest piece I posted to LinkedIn.

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    Posted by David Ratcliffe on 08/31 at 02:38 PM
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    Friday, August 28, 2015

    1st In A Series Of Leadership Articles: Ethics & Values

    I have posted to LinkedIn the first in a short series of articles taken from my “Leadership MasterClass” workshop.

    It introduces the “Leadership Capability Cloud” and then scratches below the surface on the difference between “Ethics” and “Values”.

    Let me know what you think?

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    Posted by David Ratcliffe on 08/28 at 04:12 PM
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    Wednesday, April 29, 2015

    My I Minute Video Message on Cyber Security & Resilience!

    Start your day with just a little education on one of the biggest issues we’re facing in IT & business today!

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    Posted by David Ratcliffe on 04/29 at 09:14 AM
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    Monday, April 27, 2015

    Resilience Is Not Another Name For Security - Just Ask The Fukushima Power Plant Operator

    Security measures help us to AVOID breaches. That’s a good thing. We should all undertake cyber security, and every organization does - to some degree or another.

    Cyber resilience on the other hand goes beyond security measures to includes additional plans and actions for how to deal with the after-effects of threats that may not be preventable or predictable, or because of lapses in cyber security. Such as an employee who - with no malicious intent - works around strict policies to access corporate data from an unsecured device. Or a mischievous hacker who exploits a “back door” or “buffer overflow routine” to crash a computer system. Or a rare natural disaster that turns out to be worse that anything we thought possible (never mind probable).

    Back to the more mundane world of IT management, we’re all very familiar with the increasing rate at which software developers have to release patches to close vulnerabilities in operating systems and application software. The very nature of this work means they’re always playing catch-up. So until the patch is developed, and applied, we’re vulnerable. if all we relied upon were security measures, then we’re not being responsible. We need to at least put some thought into “what if the worst were to happen, what next?” Cue resilience.

    Consider what happened to the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant in 2011. No matter how secure they believed they were in being able to prevent catastrophic damage from the most likely threats (including the after-effects of earthquakes and tsunamis) the Board of Audit investigating the “incident” is uncovering systematic complacency by TEPCO, the plant operator. When the tsunami hit and the reactor was flooded a bunch of resilience systems should have kicked-in to shut things down and minimize the negative effects. Sure, there’d be interruptions in power supply to the customers. And sure, they’d be a massive clean-up expense. But those “inconveniences” are part of the price of doing business in this volatile world. Instead, lack of reasonable resilience measures resulted in a full meltdown, lost lives and an astoundingly expensive de-commissioning and clean-up operation which will cost tens of billions of dollars and take 30-40 years to complete! What should have been a very bad incident became a catastrophic disaster.

    At the Cyber Risk & Resilience Summit events we’re presenting in Washington D.C. & London in June, we will be discussing not only what good resilience practices look like, but how they can be institutionalized.

    (22) Comments
    Posted by David Ratcliffe on 04/27 at 10:31 AM
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    Wednesday, April 22, 2015

    Avoid The Headlines!

    This past February at Pink15 I expressed the opinion that it’s time we paid more attention to the increasingly diverse threats to our cyber assets.

    The justification for this has never been more obvious. Every single day - and I mean EVERY SINGLE DAY! - there are new stories of data, services or infrastructure being compromised.

    The causes? Either our own carelessness and complacency, or the mischief-makers! (Could be cyber criminals, or could be thrill seeking youngsters with some new skills and too much time on their hands).

    If you still need convincing, set your browser’s Home Page to Information Week’s “Dark Reading” website for a few days and see what pops up every morning.

    Also, take a look at the FireEye website with the real-time threat map depicting hacks-in-action.

    Or this one here from Kaspersky.

    It’s time to acknowledge this is a vital issue.

    And when I say “vital” I really mean VITAL. In the military when something is “vital” it means “get it done, or we die”. For us in business, paying attention to cyber threats by doing risk management and building resiliency, is vital. If we don’t do it - we could go out of business. According to Inc., 60% of small businesses will fail within 6 months of a cyber attack. It’s as simple as that.

    Of course when we hear about organizations like ....

    Target - who had credit card details of up to 70m customers stolen

    Sony - who suffered 3 separate high-profile breaches in 2014. (You can find more information yourself by doing your own web search with the keywords “Sony” and “cyber breach”, because, who knows there may be even more than 3 by the time you read this!)

    JP Morgan - who - as a result of hacking - had personal records of 76m households and 7m small businesses stolen

    US Department of Veterans Affairs - who payed out $20m to settle a class action lawsuit because an employee lost a laptop containing a database of 26.5m personal records of veterans and active duty personnel

    .... we think “Well that’s their problem. Nothing to do with me!”

    Really? According to Misha Glenny - the opening keynote speaker at our upcoming Cyber Risk & Resilience Summit in June - “There are two types of organizations. Those who know they’ve been hacked. And those who don’t know they’ve been hacked.”

    So even putting aside the risks to our cyber assets through our own carelessness (losing a laptop) and complacency (“it can’t happen to us”) - according to Glenny, we’re ALL going to be hacked at some point!

    So isn’t it time you made the effort to learn more about the scope of this problem, and what you can do about it? You can start by coming along to the Summit in June. We can’t promise your organization will not “hit the headlines”, but what we can promise is that when it does happen, what you learn at the Summit will have helped you to minimize the damage.

    That’s what we mean by “cyber resilience”.

    (4) Comments
    Posted by David Ratcliffe on 04/22 at 03:17 PM
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    Thursday, March 26, 2015

    The5 Most Valuable Leadership Characteristics For IT Leaders

    The visuals I used in this morning’s Breakfast With Pink webinar!


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    Posted by David Ratcliffe on 03/26 at 10:06 AM
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