Creating Values to create Value… what’s that got to do with IT?

Published on Saturday 15 December 2012 by in Blog with no comments

Technology rules OK!….or Technoids R Us!

I used to be a technoid and proud of it!…..there I’ve said it. I used to be a cave dwelling technoid who would communicate in technobabble and genuinely thought users should be outsourced. Users didn’t get IT! didn’t know how to use IT, would continually break IT, didn’t know what they wanted and kept moaning and asking stupid questions. If we could somehow remove users from the equation IT would be brilliant. The technology was my goal, not how it was used.

Process rules OK!
Then, through a slow, painful process I discovered the light that was ‘ ITIL’  and all that process stuff. I adopted the ITIL framework as my latest ‘tool’ to be ‘implemented’ or ‘installed’. I became an ITIL ‘Service manager’(with distinction). I threw my ITIL solutions over the wall to the technoids who didn’t get it and saw them consistently and repeatedly ignore my works of art. I mis-applied processes with distinction! The process was my goal, not what it delivered.

Service rules OK!
Then I discovered that all this ITSM and process nonsense was there to provide a degree of management and control to enable us to deliver services to the business.  The SLA was born and more recently the hunt for the Service catalogue. More instruments we could develop to baffle the users with, more instruments we could push to the front and hide behind. The services being couched in IT terms and concepts and not business terms and value. The Service level Agreement became the goal not service value for the users.

Performance rules OK!
Then in a blinding flash of inspiration I realized that a Service was all about Value, Outcomes, Costs and Risks and how we should be applying all the technology, process and service instruments to enable us to deliver and demonstrate value to the business. We even managed to have this published in the ITIL V2 book ‘Planning to Implement Service Management’. But somehow this wasn’t being understood or translated into people, process, product and partner capabilities, and we in IT really don’t get the business stuff. We are still too internally focused. IT metrics and performance was the focus, not the business value.

People rule OK!
Then I discovered that all this process stuff, sexy  technology, services and performance focus was all dependent upon people. The attitude, behavior and culture of the people. As Rob England helped word it more succinctly people, process, people, product, people, partner, people, performance, people. It is people that link the whole chain together and people become the weakest link in this chain. People on the IT side and People on the business  side  who need to align attitude and  behavior and remove the ‘them and us’ culture. But there was something else missing. ABC became the focus not the glue that binds them together.

I have now suddenly got another ‘aha’ moment.

Values R Us!
The next step in my evolution in ITSM. It is all about values! Values about who we want to be, how we want to behave and values that bind us together in a common set of goals and a shared culture.

This ‘aha’ came after speaking to many CIO’s and senior IT managers who explained that they are undergoing IT transformations, positioning ITSM capabilities for the future – ITSM as a strategic capability. There seemed to be a common theme many of them shared, a new set of ‘Values’ in IT, often coupled to new corporate values. One even named it a new ‘DNA’ for the organization. Something to tie business and IT together. Let me give some examples of what I mean to make it more practical and real.

It was about 10 years ago that I met James Lovell (Commander of Apollo 13) and Gene Kranz (Flight Director of Mission Control for Apollo 13). Gene Kranz kept going on about values whilst I was still going on about processes, best practices…I didn’t get why they both kept repeating it, or the significance of what they meant. What made Gene Kranz and his team successful? ‘Living our values’, trusting and believing others to behave consistently and do what is right according to the values, knowing that we all share the same values, that we all know the goals, that everything we say and do is focused on those goals. After all that is our right to exist! We are here to achieve the strategy and goals of the business, not of mission control. The values bind us together. It is now many years later that the true significance has hit me.

I have described these Misssion control values below on the left side of the table. On the right side I have described the most common IT ‘values’ we see in the numerous international organizations we help. The good news is we are starting, some 35 years after Mission control, to understand the value of values.

Mission Control Values Most common IT Values  mentioned by CIO’s
Customer & Service focused

Discipline: being able to follow as well as lead, knowing that we must master ourselves before we can master our task
Sticking to agreements! Walking-the-talk, Do what you say and say what you do….
‘saying YES and doing No’ is the number 2 chosen ABC worst practice card world wide!
Competence: there being no substitute for total preparation and complete dedication. Professional, Knowledge sharing organization. 
Confidence: Believing in ourselves as well as others, knowing that we must master fear and hesitation before we can succeed. Trust & credibility
Responsibility: Realizing it cannot be shifted to others, for it belongs to each of us; we must answer for what we do, or fail to do. Responsibility and ownership‘Not my responsibility’ is another top chosen ABC worst practice card world-wide.
Toughness: Taking a stand when we must; to try again, and again even if it means following a more difficult path. Confront each other on our responsibilities
Teamwork: respecting and utilizing the ability of others, realizing that we work towards a common goal, for success depends on the efforts of all. Team working and collaboration aimed at realizing customer value
To realize that the greatest error is not to have tried and failed, but that in trying  we did not give it our best effort. CSI, Improving our work IS our work!


You can see there is a clear commonality in values.  One striking difference. The number 1 IT core value we consistently see in IT organizations is ‘becoming customer and service focused’, whereas this isn’t mentioned in Mission control. In Mission control It goes without saying that business goals and results are paramount.  What made Mission control successful?

Living these values’.

However very often in IT organizations these values are simply words, slogans, posters and memos – instruments rather that an attitude(belief) and new way of behaving. They are often NOT translated into concrete, measurable behavior or concrete agreements, they are often NOT translated into the processes, we do not collectively confront each other on the new behavior that underpins the values, and as such we don’t get the value from our ITSM transformation initiatives.

When I ask ‘If I go and get a customer and bring him into the IT organization for 1 day and we walk around in the departments what behavior will we see that demonstrates this? Customer focused for example. What behavior will make the customer say  ‘That is a customer focused IT organization’?     …….the answer is usually

Good question, we haven’t really thought about that or defined that!’

If the Management team hasn’t defined this, what chance is there that the IT employees will suddenly start behaving this way? The same applies to the other values mentioned above. Values need to be translated into desirable behavior and then the process frameworks and tools used to embed this into the daily way of working.

It appears in our discussions that CIO’s and management teams that really understand this and are committed to making this happen achieve faster, more sustainable results. So therefore it is values that deliver the value.

Responsibility and ownership being the key to making it all work. This is also why this consistently scores as the number 1 key learning take-away and improvement suggestion following the Apollo 13 Business simulation sessions. This is also what made Gene Kranz and James Lovell say that it is all about instilling ownership and responsibility for the goals….then the processes and technology simply enable this. Will we be able to make this change? While the ABC worst practice card

You have my FULL commitment, apart from time, money, effort and attention and just so long as I don’t have to be involved’

(No management commitment) still remains the number 1 globally chosen resistance card I don’t think so.

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