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I see a lot of CIOs spending a lot of time — which is very important to do — on major business initiatives. But I often see an inadequate amount of time spent where the day-to-day, most frequent touchpoints are, which is with all the other ways the people in the company are their users. One of the big changes that has come with the mass consumerization of technology is that IT needs to flip that around a little and spend more time focusing on the overall employee experience.
from Google’s CIO on How to Make Your IT Department Great .
So happy to see that I’m not alone: before asking to sit at the ‘business table’ , dear CIOs, be sure to know how to do your homework first!
Incidentally this means you should have an IT background 😉
It’s ironic that two industries who are highly reliant on collaboration often have the most siloed legacy systems, processes and IT infrastructures. As one aerospace executive told me recently, the industry sees cloud computing as solution to what many call “silos of excellence” that slow down progress. Aerospace executives also speak of security concerns, especially in the area of globally-based defense support and logistics platforms.
full article here
…. mmmmmm: my spider senses are tingling ….
In many sectors, a shortage of IT-literate talent in the business is creating a bottleneck. Contrary to popular belief, the majority of executives can, with the appropriate training, learn how to manage value from IT. But capability building must start at the top. Some companies have put their top 200 managers through IT boot camp as a way to start the process.
IT people is often scared when I say that I don’t like the traditional testing phase in IT projects.
I understand, it’s so relaxing to know that you have a bunch of people to blame when projects go the wrong way: “we did 3 month of testing, we really couldn’t do more to save this project!”.
And if it’s not the testing team, you can always blame the requirements team for gathering them badly. But this is another story, another post :). Let’s get back to testing.
What I generally don’t like about testing is that you do some operations based on … what the system is designed to do. Someone writes a requirement, someone (else) writes one or more test cases to prove it, someone (else) writes some code and finally someone (else) reads the test case and uses the system giving his interpretation of the behavior … giving a GO/NO GO.
Should I explain why I feel uncomfortable? I hope not but let me add an unobvious thing: where is reality in this long chain? Who’s in charge of saying if the system is doing what is needed and not what someone (else) thinks it should be doing?
Scary, isn’t it?
We will talk about a new development technique called WDD or Worries Driven Development.
You might know another couple of *DD techniques: TDD and DDD but they are by far less powerful than WDD.
TDD or Test Driven Development has been invented by Ken Beck (@kentbeck). As Wikipedia states “is a software development process that relies on the repetition of a very short development cycle: first the developer writes an (initially failing) automated test case that defines a desired improvement or new function, then produces the minimum amount of code to pass that test and finally refactors the new code to acceptable standards”.
DDD or Domain Drive Design is a little more recent, especially it’s hype, and as Wikipedia says “is an approach to develop software for complex needs by connecting the implementation to an evolving model.The premise of domain-driven design is the following: Placing the project’s primary focus on the core domain and domain logic; Basing complex designs on a model of the domain; Initiating a creative collaboration between technical and domain experts to iteratively refine a conceptual model that addresses particular domain problems.” In Italy Alberto Barndolini (@ziobrando) is really good at it!
WDD is more powerful because it works at a deeper level. It acts at the level of motivations. We tend to do what we do for one of two reasons: to seek pleasure or to avoid pain.
Now our culture tend to push us to the ‘avoid pain’ side so we tend to use it more often as a motivation to do what we do. So what’s more relieving than solving a problem to ‘avoid pain’?
That’s where WDD come from: we do what worries us. Or better we do, schedule, put in priority what can have consequences that can worry us.
So the algorithm is: if you don’t have it, create a problem, throw it in the future, communicate it so that everybody can be worried. Now you are ready to make a lot of overtime to solve it to ‘avoid pain’.
The secret? WDD is not that new: it is quite often used as a primary development paradigm in many offices of medium-big corporations. And it works …. maybe.
We have a practice at home: one day per week we have a ‘reading evening’. No TV is allowed: after dinner we take a book and we read all together.
Now what’s happening lately is that my 8-yrs-old digital-native heavy-iPad-user computer-enthusiast son started saying:
“OK Dad tonight we have our reading evening and you cannot read with the iPad, you have to use a paper book”
So I asked:
And he said …. ok I don’t want to tell you the answer immediately :).
You guess: why he doesn’t want me to read with the iPad?
I’ve heard, in different moments in time, different definitions of how an IT Manager, a CIO, should look like. Which are the most important skills, the background she has to have.
At the beginning, it was all about technology:
IT was too far from human beings
and IT was available only in big corporations. The IT Manager was the guy with the white coat: an expert of her matter. An IT guy.
Than IT became more commodity and it was the time of business:
IT was too far from the business
and IT decided it was time to talk the language of the business. So the IT dept moved under the CFO or the COO, and the IT Manager became a ‘business man’. Technical skills were no more important for her: there was the outsourcing and the SLAs to cope with the ‘technical stuff’.
Then the internet came, and Google, and Facebook, and Twitter … and all of the sudden
IT, inside corporations, is too far from real life
and people inside the company use to have such a bad IT experience that he would never accept at home … even for free.
To manage all of this we need a new race of IT Managers: they must have deep understanding of both parties. They must know a lot about IT and a lot about making business. But today it’s no more enough. Nowadays IT tech skills and management skills can be an obstacle, sooner or later, if they are not enriched with good design skills.
In the innovation and design era, to move IT at the right speed (maybe 10xFaster) and at the right level of innovation, IT + management + design have to be carefully used, melted, weighed out.
p.s. Thanks to my friend Nico Bigi for the inspiration of this post
Do you agree?
+ operational advantages such as setting up infrastructure in minutes rather than months, completing massive computational projects with a large number of resources quickly, and scaling architecture up and down to provide the needed IT resources only when you need them, deliver targeted IT solutions fast for individual business units – these deliver a “return on agility.” The return on agility delivers business value by allowing you adapt rapidly, while remaining focused on your core competencies rather than distracted by operating IT infrastructure.
But more importantly it allows the business to change and dramatically reduce time-to-market for products. It drives down the cost of experimentation and allows companies to explore many more product directions with minimal risk. In the current economic climate where capital is scarce, being able to develop new products rapidly without the need for major capital investments is crucial to the success of businesses.