The People Factor in IT – Rulers group

Published on Wednesday 10 April 2013 by in News with no comments

RulersGroupknowledge house for ICT professionals’ organized a spring customer event focused on the practical application of knowledge to realize real results. A central theme in the event was ‘People and change’.  Subjects included ‘Tapping into the potential of people’, ‘Personal leadership’, ‘Mobilizing talent to realize performance improvements’, ‘Dealing with attitude and behavior’, ‘Creating an environment and culture of trust’. Obviously popular subjects as more than 70 people attended.

Why these events and why this theme?. Harry Boers of RulersGroup explained. “…If you look at people like Gordon Ramsey (Top chef) they organize tasting events to ensure that the products and dishes they design are those wanted by customers, I also want to give customers a taste of our initiatives, developments and ideas to ensure that what we offer meets customer needs, at the same time I want to mobilize our network of partners and experts and customer organizations to share their knowledge for the benefit of others’. Why this theme? In previous events on technology or ‘hardcore frameworks’ we noticed that the ‘people’ related presentations were the most heavily attended. There is a clear demand to help address the ‘People factor in IT’.

Here are my takes on the sessions I attended, and the results of my ‘Guerilla Transformation’ workshop which used the ABC of ICT (Attitude, Behavior, Culture) cards to empower people to change themselves. 

Robert Jan Simons, Paphos: IRIS Integrated Management of Change best practice

Robert Jan began by explaining an Integrated model based on that of Ken Wilber. Two dimensions: Internal & external world (being and doing) and a dimension of individual and group. The strength and success of a change initiative is aligning the 4 areas. A typical example of why many change initiatives fail is the focus too much on one quadrant:  ‘organization and external” (structures, hierarchy processes) and too little alignment with individuals (attitudes, responsibilities, interpretations) and organizational internal needs (culture, shared values).

A key focus in the Paphos approach is the need to manage and change the ‘perception’ – trust, commitment, opinions and attitude about self, others, and the proposed direction.  The ‘power of perception’ is that we are driven and strongly influenced by our perceptions.

A critical capability in managing and changing perceptions and mobilizing people to action is ‘Leadership and management effectiveness’. IRIS is an integrated, disciplined , measurable approach to help managers improve the success of change programs. Underpinned with four attitudes: ‘Must do’, ‘Want to’, ‘Able to’, ‘Discipline to’. Implementation approaches were catageorized as ‘footloose’, ‘energy drainer’, wishful thinking’, or ‘collapsing cake’ based upon the levels of attitudes realized.  IRIS is the integrated approach to ensure the four attitudes are managed and measured using Pulse.

ABC resistance workshop (45 mins)

Paul Wilkinson complimented Robert Jan’s session by conducting an ABC of ICT (Attitude, behavior,. Culture) workshop. Examining key types of ‘Resistance’ and ‘Perceptions’ to a change initiative, and exploring what leaders need to do, and what management effectiveness is. This workshop was positioned as part of the Aranea and Rulers group approach to ‘Guerilla Transformation’ – mobilizing and empowering people to change and ensuring that knowledge can be translated into results – sustainable behavior change and business impact. The Guerilla transformation approach makes use of experiential learning, such as business simulations to help translate theory into practice and empower teams to capture improvements they want to take away and apply.

These were the top scoring types of resistance from the individual choices. Each person in a team of 5 chose THEIR top 3 resistance cards:

Business fit:

  • Unable to specify the Value required by the business
  • IT thinks it doesn’t need to understand the business to make a business case
  • No understanding of business impact and priority


  • ITIL never work here
  • My tool will solve all your problems
  • Plan, do, stop… No real continual improvement


  • Saying YES but doing NO
  • No management commitment
  • No respect for, or lack of trust in management

See the global top 10 types of resistance!

Teams were asked to choose a top card from all the cards chosen within their team. The top card was the card with the most negative impact, or a card that was the cause of other cards chosen. The teams were asked to brainstorm ‘What needs to be done to deal with the top resistance card?’.

Card chosen: Unable to specify the VALUE required by the business

Actions by: Managers

  • Make strategy explicit and communicate this. Strategy in terms of Value, Outcomes, Costs, Risks.
  • Identify various business stakeholders and understand THEIR VALUE needs (will vary between business units).
  • Communicate consistently (ALL managers with the same message), communicate in team meetings, process meetings, individual performance reviews. Communicate at start of training programs and courses. Use all contact moments to ensure strategy understood, sense of urgency understood, business NEEDS understood.

Actions by: process managers/middle managers need to:

  • perform a ‘business value analysis’ together with the business, ask the business in terms of Value, Outcomes, Costs, Risks.
  • Make a differentiation in the different business systems, their impact, their value
  • Ensure all are aware of answers to the following questions ‘what is important NOW?’, ‘What is good enough?’, ‘what is acceptable’, ‘what is the value generated?’, ‘what is the impact of outages and when is the impact unacceptable?’

Card chosen: Saying YES doing NO

Actions by: Managers

  • Confront people on this. Explain there will be consequences. Confront undesirable behavior, recognize and reward desirable behavior
  • Ensure there is authority for process managers (explicit/implicit) to deal with this. Full back-up from managers.
    Confront and ask employees in team setting and individual setting to explain WHY
  • Search for reasons and solutions ‘lack of training’, ‘lack of understanding’, ‘higher priority? – why was this not notified in advance or escalated’.
  • Explore together with employees the IMPACT of specific situations when YES was said but NO was done, what was impact on Customer? What was impact on Values, Outcomes, Costs, Risks. Be specific.

Card chosen: No management commitment

Actions by:  Unfortunately no actions were recorded, the team apparently was not committed to the agreement of recording results to share with the community 🙂

My final session attended was also a session by Robert Jan Simmons, Paphos ‘The promise of Service’

An ITSM ‘Implementation’ approach is often characterized by ‘Too many assumptions, not enough promises and understanding’.  Robert Jan took the results from the ABC workshop as an example ‘a lot of people defined and nodded agreement to the actions…….however‘.

Robert Jan presented the Performa approach from Paphos.  In short this is an approach and instruments to make lasting agreements. – I promise to deliver this to you. Why is this necessary? ABC surveys still show TOP scoring cards as being ‘Saying YES but doing NO’, ‘Not my responsibility’, ‘Never mind about following procedures, just do what we normally do’ (Now that the ‘Implementation project is finished)!

A Customer case was used, ‘We need to be more customer and service focused’. A Tool and ITIL processes were implemented but it soon became evident that the tool was not being used effectively and the processes were not delivering the HOPED for results, people were often ignoring the process, or saying YES but doing NO. Typical examples of the ABC of ICT issues discovered. There was no ‘Ownership’ to solve the incidents, or to use the tool, people were not confronted on their agreements.

Robert Jan explained how the Apollo 13 business simulation had been used to confront people on ‘undesirable behavior’, ‘assumptions’, ‘lack of ownership’, ‘lack of responsibility and accountability’. And showed just one or two teasers and examples of how Performa was used –‘ a promise that managers would explicitly tell the priority of the tasks, in agreement with the customer, no longer makes assumptions about who decides priorities of tasks’.  Performa is about the dialogue to make the promised agreement. Then the discussion about authority? The mandate to do it? Daring to try and fail, to learn and grow?

These ‘Promises’ were also embedded in the Pulse measurement system to measure the execution of the promises (new desired behavior) over time and to use the results to determine if new management interventions are required to bring the change program back on course. ‘The secret of behavior change’ said Robert Jan ‘isn’t ‘Think your way in a new way of acting’, it is ‘Act your way in a new way of thinking’’.

All in all, a powerful event with a lot of dialogue and discussion and new insights into dealing with ‘The People factor’ in IT.

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