Latest ABC issues – Business & IT alignment Masterclass(NL)
GamingWorks was invited once again to conduct an ABC (Attitude, Behavior, Culture) workshop in the 2014 ‘Masterclass Information strategy’ in the Netherlands. The February session focused on ‘Samenwerking’ – ‘working together’, loosly translated this can be seen as ‘team-working’ or ‘end-to-end working’).
I looked up a dictionary definition of ‘Samenwerking’:
‘…contributing to a shared result by optimally aligning own quality and interests and those of another group/the other party’
The ABC exercise would be used to help delegates recognize current ‘quality’ (in terms of worst practices and undesirable behavior) and the impact upon ‘results’.
Bas Stofberg from Quint opened with his ‘Vision on samenwerking’. He explored a model which showed 4 characteristics of ‘samenwerking’, which could be viewed as levels of maturity:
‘Trust’ based upon the characteristics – ‘Contribution to success’ and ‘Delivering quality’
‘Discipline’ based upon the characteristics of ‘Sticking to agreements’ and ‘Own interests – what’s important for me’.
The results of the ABC exercise clearly show that IT is ‘Internally focused’ (own interests) and focused on the frameworks (e.g ITIL) to embed ‘agreed’, ‘disciplined’ ways of working in the organization, with too little focus on the ‘results’ to be achieved. This behavior explains why ‘IT is not seen as an added value partner’ scored as the highest chosen ABC card in the exercise.
IT is striving to become a ‘partner’ to the business, which by definition requires ‘Trust’. However our current focus and maturity prevents us from realizing this ‘partner’ position.
Professor Hans Mulder presented ‘Samenwerking and what if it goes wrong’ in which he showed some of the latest statistics on the failure rates of IT projects. One of the key findings was that ’lack of user involvement’ was one of the key failure and success factors. This was also one of the top chosen ABC cards ‘Too little business involvement in requirements specification and testing’.
ABC of ICT Exercise: Customer exercise
Delegates were divided into teams and each team was given a set of ABC worst practice cards. The teams were asked to choose worst practice cards which represent poor quality as perceived by the ‘other party’- the business – their customers.
These were the top cards chosen, clustered into A,B and C
- IT not seen as an added value partner
- IT has too little understanding of business impact and priority
- We don’t measure our value contribution to strategy
- Throwing (ITIL/ITSM) solutions over the wall and HOPING people will follow them
- Too little business involvement in requirements specification and testing
- IT is too internally focused
- Plan, do, stop….no continual improvement culture
The teams all agreed that their ‘right to exist’ as an IT organization was to deliver quality service to their business (defined as internal customers, as opposed to the customers of their business). As usual I asked ‘What is the definition of a Service according to ITIL’? Nobody knew the answer, yet all were aware of, or using ITIL. I explained it is all about Value, Outcomes, Costs, Risks. The teams then discussed which of their selected ABC cards has the most negative impact on VOCR. Answers ranged from ‘lost revenue’, ‘poor availability’, ‘wasted costs’, ‘lost productivity’. I asked the teams ‘If we asked your business to do the same exercise would they choose the same cards and give the same answers about impact’?
‘We do not know as we have never had this dialogue’ was the answer.
Effective ‘samenwerking’ means having this dialogue to discuss quality and impact and expectations on results!
The fact that all the teams recognized these examples of worst practice behavior and recognized the negative impact on VOCR shows that current IT quality and results pose a significant business risk and are a barrier to us achieving a position of ‘Trust’. The fact that we do not KNOW if these are the concerns of the business shows we have a poor level of ‘samenwerking’. These were also the results of the Masterclass workshop which I first ran more than 5 years ago…….
The ABC of ICT card set was seen as an instrument that can help facilitate the dialogue, focus attention on perceived quality and results, and foster ‘Samenwerking’.
Hopefully I won’t be back with the same workshop in 5 years and hopefully we won’t still have the same issues.