Looking Back for the Next Step Forward!

Published on Thursday 13 December 2018 by in Blog with no comments

No predictions for 2019. We just want to take a moment to look back at 2018, you can decide for yourselves what YOUR next step needs to be to move forward in 2019!

It has been a busy time gathering international feedback at industry events here at GamingWorks. We have been travelling the globe capturing key insights and challenges that organizations are struggling with and at the same time showing how business simulations can help address many of these challenges.

I’d like to share here some of the challenges that organizations are facing.

See which ones YOU recognize?

The embedded blog links below also give insights and tips from industry experts and practitioners on what YOU can do to tackle these challenges in YOUR organization.

I think the most common theme that seems to be picking up momentum is the need for ‘Upskilling’ or ‘Talent development’ as the skills gap widens in what is being labelled as the era of ‘Digital  Transformation’ or ‘the fourth Industrial Revolution’.

I will start this summary 6 months ago in Belgium  at an itSMF event to explore the age old problem of ‘Business & IT-Alignment’. In a Grab@Pizza simulation workshop delegates explored this problem and how BRM (Business Relationship management) needs to be a core capability, yet is generally poorly applied. I posted results in a summary entitled ‘From Pizza to Performance: A Business & IT Alignment Experience’ and captured delegate takeaways relating to the core BRM competence areas. ‘Trust & credibility’ were seen as key barriers in moving from ‘Order taker’ to ‘Strategic partner’. This seems to be a global issue of IT organizations struggling to make this shift.

How is YOUR Business & IT relationship? How do YOUR BRM competences rate up?

In Singapore at the ITSM Leadership Forum’ the theme was ‘Future of Service Management with Digitalization and Disruption’. My summary was entitled ‘What have Dobby the House Elf, and a Robot called Yolanda got to do with shaping the future of ITSM’. This article explored the secret potion to transformation success – The ABC of ICT. (Attitude, Behavior & Culture). Once again ‘IT has too little understanding of business impact & priority’ is a global top scoring ABC card. This relates back to the findings from the Belgium session above. IT Governance was also seen as an area for improvement, especially now with the rapid explosion of disruptive technologies. However itSMF Survey results presented at the event revealed some worrying facts about the uptake of frameworks. BRM and COBIT (a Governance framework) are sadly lacking yet are 2 key challenge areas.

Are YOU using the right mix of practices to solve the right problems? Are we training people in the most appropriate frameworks?

The business challenges raised at the Singapore conference, i.e Digitalization & Disruption (such as Yolanda the Robot in my blog and other emerging technologies) are driving the need for more agility globally. One organizational response to this need for agility is DevOps. Whilst I was in Singapore Jan Schilt was exploring how DevOps and the Phoenix Project simulation would be experienced in Japan. Jan captured learning takeaways. A key conclusion which came back numerous times as the year progressed was ‘Everyone (including Business side) should know this way of thinking (DevOps)’. The theme of Biz-Dev-Ops was raised and would become a hot topic at the DevOps Enterprise Summit later in the year, linking back to the Singapore conference and the need for improved Governance to balance ‘new features’, with ‘technical debt and risks’.

How well does YOUR DevOps initiative include the business? How well is YOUR organization equipping the business with the right skills? E.g Product owners.

At the itSMF Fusion event in the USA Gene Kim was a guest speaker at the ‘Executive connections’ session. This was another trend throughout the year, DevOps and other emerging frameworks are being included more and more at itSMF events globally. At the executive connections a list of ‘pain points were made’. In reference to these Gene had some clear messaging about the value that ITIL/ITSM can bring into DevOps as well as a need to shift behaviors to more ‘business outcomes’ rather than ‘technology & features’. This behavior change was required by Dev, Ops AND the business. All this ties back again to the Belgium session at the start, shifting IT from an ‘Order taker’ to a ‘Strategic partner’, and conclusions from Singapore (more business governance is needed) and from Japan (more business involvement). Gene also stressed the importance of Culture referring to the ‘State of DevOps’ findings and the critical ‘make or break’ role of leadership. More on this later.

How well is YOUR leadership enabling the right Culture shift? How well is YOUR organization developing leadership skills?

At the DevOps Enterprise summit in the USA I was surprised by the challenges facing the DevOps community. I could understand why the opening introduction announced the need for ‘Upskilling’ and a skills survey. In my blog ‘DOES18: Challenges and enablers for DevOps success’ I summarized the challenges from more than 100 delegates and at the same time included some tips and insights from Industry experts. The top challenge was ‘Leadership’, referring back to Gene’s address at the itSMF Executive connections. One of the main conclusions from speaker sessions was a need for end-to-end value streams not just Dev-Ops (Biz-Dev-Ops) and again a shift from features to outcomes. One of the most powerful highlights for me was the presentation from Dr. Steve Spear: “Discovering Your Way to Greatness: How Finding and Fixing Faults is the Path to Perfection.” Don’t ask “How is it going?” Ask, “What is not working, and what can we do about it?” This ties in nicely with a finding from the latest State Of DevOps report: “Relentless improvement work leads to excellence and high performance.” However sadly ‘Plan, Do, Stop…No continual improvement culture’ is still a top scoring ABC card and something teams struggle with in our Phoenix Project sessions.

Are you still ‘implementing frameworks’? or developing continual learning & improvement as a core capability in an age of relentless change. How well is YOUR organizations developing continual learning and improvement capabilities?

Throughout the year we also captured the findings from literally hundreds of global DevOps teams around the world. It is clear that Leadership, communication and collaboration are key challenges (read the articles behind the links). We summarized our findings together with those from the latest State of DevOps report (this year and previous years) and related these to the DASA competence model. The need for changes to leadership skills and behaviors was increasingly a topic in our global Phoenix Project deliveries, a topic at the Enterprise summit and a key success factor in the State Of DevOps findings.

As an extension to these findings I ran a series of Phoenix Project simulations in Germany, Poland and the Netherlands. One of the key goals was to develop ‘Collaboration skills’. It was clear in our global deliveries that teams struggle with developing these behaviors!

How well are you fostering a Culture of ‘Effective collaboration’ and instilling the right behaviors? See which of these collaboration behaviors YOU need to improve in YOUR organization?.

The next event was the itSMF Uk annual conference which was a logical culmination of findings from the events above. The conference theme was on the ‘relevance of ITSM’ and included the great relevance debate. I summarized my findings from the debate in this article ‘If you want to remain relevant it starts with YOU taking ACTION’! which also included some key practical takeaways delegates discovered at our Phoenix project DevOps workshop.

A great quote from Ian Penny from Hiscox (CIO of the year) was ‘One Team’. He didn’t mean one end-to-end IT team! We need to blur the lines between Business & IT, ‘tear down the distinction’. Once again relating back to the start of the year with ‘Business & IT Alignment’. Another recurring theme that is emerging is recognition of the need to move away from the ‘prescriptive frameworks’ and the discussions around ‘this framework’ or ‘that framework’, and stop seeing the framework as the goal!

Jan’s final events were two MarsLander sessions in London and Manchester looking at how to make ITSM more Agile, what ITIL4 offers for the future, and how ITIL4 hopefully helps address some of the challenges mentioned above. Jan ended the session focusing on ‘transfer of learning’, a critical capability for the future as organizations will be investing heavily in ‘upskilling’ and ‘talent development’ in 2019 to face these challenges. This was also the topic of a post on the DASA website.
How well does YOUR organization manage the return on value from the transfer of learning?

Perhaps fittingly to finish I was back in Belgium where we started. At the CTG Agile Transformation conference. It was clear that many organizations face the same challenges as we captured at the DevOps Enterprise summit. I presented ‘DevOps will fail……Unless’, which we were asked to present at a number of global conferences revealing findings from 400 teams and giving practical tips to solve. Two takeaways from this event for me which tie back in to the need for more business engagement and business skills were the growing interest for BDD (Behavior Driven Design) and ‘Impact mapping’.

Whatever steps you decide in 2019 to take address these challenges, I am sure we have a simulation that can help 🙂

Success with your next step!


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