Co-creating the future
‘Co-create’ was the theme of the first National Management & IT symposium (MITs) held in the Netherlands. It was a combined initiative from the Agile consortium, ASL BiSL foundation, BPM forum, Business Rules Platform, itSMF, Ngi, KIVI NIRIA and the BITA center. The symposium covered a range of trends and developments around business and IT.
What for me was unique and exciting was that there was a complete stream dedicated to Serious gaming and experiential learning. This coincided coincidentally with the launch of a new book entitled ‘Serious gaming Leren door te ervaren’ (learning by experience) a co-creation by leading Dutch game developers, game delivery providers and organizations having applied serious gaming. In the same week I also heard that AXELOS (the new owners of the Best practices such as ITIL and Prince2) had announced that they would be investing in and promoting games to support best practice training and implementation. Finally it seems that serious gaming is getting serious attention, and based upon the results of our survey quite rightly so.
Another example of co-creation was in the gaming stream at MITs . GamingWorks and Simagine – two of the leading ITSM game companies got together to co-create new game interventions for the market. During the conference they used ‘Human-IT’ and a combined ‘ABC-Mercator’ to help capture new insights into ‘undesirable’ and ‘desirable behavior’ in order to help IT organizations improve.
In the first session Human-IT was used (A combination of the ABC of ICT (Attitude, Behavior and Culture) game from GamingWorks and ‘A Heart effort’ from Simagine). The game is used to facilitate a dialogue between managers and employees and within teams to identify and agree required changes to ABC within an organization, helping to create awareness, empower teams and employees and capture concrete input into a CSI (continual Service Improvement) initiative.
In a 20 minute session discussing questions the team discovered the following :
- ‘consistant desired behavior’ was misinterpreted as ‘ bureaucratic following of frameworks and procedures’ and was seen as both negative and damaging. There was clearly a lack of buy-in to ‘best practice frameworks’, or rather the way in which they are mis-used.
- ‘Sticking to agreements’ and ‘confronting each other on agreements’ was seen as an important ‘desirable behavior’ to be taken away…..surely this is an example of ‘consistent desirable behavior?’, in fact it is what we want to try to achieve using the frameworks.
- Lack of management commitment, engagement and walking-the-talk was felt as a barrier by all, confirming the number 1 ABC card world-wide. ‘Lack of management commitment’, when adopting and deploying best practices.
- Having IT managers engage at the shop floor and attend meetings (e.g change meeting) to see the impact of behavior was seen as a powerful way of creating more management commitment.
- Lack of ‘authority’ of process managers was seen as ‘undesirable behavior’. A common agreement from delegates was the need to bringing line managers and process managers together to agree ‘authority’ for prioritizing and allocating resources to processes, and agreeing what managers needed to do to demonstrate commitment and endorse process managers authority.
It was a short session that had quickly raised some serious recognized issues. Did it generate any new insights? It convinced one delegate of the need to engage more with managers to demonstrate the value of processes and to have managers more engaged in process meetings and process reviews. The exercise had helped make the hidden ABC Iceberg visible and tangible and had helped focus on new desirable behavior, not simply bureaucratic books of paper based ‘procedures’ and ‘processes’.
The second session was a combination of the ABC of ICT game from GamingWorks and Mercator a game from Simagine that focuses on performance management and peoples’ implicit views of and assumptions about the world around them. It’s about finding causal relations. What leads to what ? What other areas will be influenced ? Or: what is the influence of other areas on what I am about to do. For example If I want to increase customer satisfaction, what actions will help ? And what result should those actions have ? How can I monitor what is happening, what do I want to know along the way. Most Importantly: Which are my most important KPI’s ?
At the start of the session delegates selected ABC worst practice cards related to business and IT alignment and discussed the impact of these on performance.
The cards chosen showed issues in both IT AND Business Attitude and Behavior . These were the results:
- Too little business involvement in requirements specification and testing (11)
- Everything has the highest priority according to the business(7)
- No understanding of business impact and priority (13)
- IT not seen as added value partner by the business (5)
- We don’t measure our value contribution to the strategy (5)
These have been consistently chosen cards for the last 10 years!!
The teams then explored possible interventions, what they needed to know and the KPI’s that would demonstrate success.
We first looked at the definition of a Service ‘A means of delivering Value to Customers by facilitating Outcomes they want to achieve without the ownership of Costs and Risks’ (Once again most of the audience were somehow engaged in ITIL, only 2 people knew the definition. Once again the primary answers were all related to ‘Value’ and not to ‘Risk’).
The teams were then asked to choose the top card from the cards chosen.
Which card has the most negative impact on value and outcomes or causes the most excessive wasted costs and business risks?.
The teams chose ‘No understanding of business impact and priority’. It’s impact being:
- Wasted costs through inefficient and ineffective use of resources doing the wrong things
- Issues to business continuity (Risk) as a result of not fully understanding business impact associated with outages
- Lost productivity and possible revenue through outages
- Value not created for business if new solutions are not developed on time or resources are not allocated to business initiatives that matter
- Business outcomes may not be achieved
- Possible damage to business reputation due to outages
‘No understanding business impact & priority’ was a card which the teams recognized and a card which represented an unacceptable business risk.
Had the teams actually discussed this with their OWN business in reality?
Was this the real business impact, or was this simply what IT thought was the impact?
Most did not know as this level of dialogue had not occurred with the business, also the business is often unable to specify their real needs and requirements and are continually demanding and changing priorities.
It was concluded that it is a business responsibility to properly govern IT, but is the business likely to change their behavior overnight? Do they recognize a need to change their attitude and behavior? Many businesses are immature in the way they govern IT, just like many IT organizations are immature and are NOT seen as a VALUE add partner to the business.
One fact is certain. Only one of the partners can outsource the other partner! It is up to IT to demonstrate VOCR to the business and help the business understand and appreciate business impact and risks from poor IT governance. However before IT is taken seriously many IT organizations must first create TRUST by demonstrating they both understand and are managing existing costs and risks associated with IT.
Demand management and Portfolio management were seen as important capabilities to be developed as possible solution areas to the problem.
But what about the performance and the KPI’s the teams wanted to propose in the game? The teams spent 15 minutes discussing, before they had to present to the CEO in the game. As CEO I stopped them after 10 minutes and asked them ‘had anybody thought to engage with me? Ask me what was important in terms of V,O,C,R?…….it was quiet. They had fallen into one of the most common ABC cards chosen world-wide. ‘IT is too internally focused’.
‘We did exactly what we do in reality’ said one IT manager.
The game had helped the delegates identify key ABC issues and had forced them to discuss the business impact. They had then seen how this information could be used to identify ‘selected elements’ within best practice frameworks that could be used to solve these, they also saw how improvement proposals need to be an integrated approach containing people, process, product and partner aspects.
If we want to be seen as a value added partner we MUST engage with the business and demonstrate we understand the business impact and priorities. We must engage and ‘Co-create’ our future. ‘These games help us focus on what matters, creating dialogue and a shared understanding and agreement on what needs to be done’ said one delegate.