Research by the Corporate Executive Board[i] (CEB) shows that when employees help to determine the right course of action and they are responsible for the implementation of the changes, the chances of success double and the implementation will most likely be faster.
IT staff that are actually doing the work need to be involved in creating the change necessary for their teams to become more efficient and effective. Whether you are implementing a best practice, a new type of technology, or going through a digital transformation, if you want a higher probability of achieving the expected return, the IT staff need to be engaged.
Engaging employees in determining the right process or technology changes isn’t as easy as merely assigning them an action. To be successful, the same CEB research also shows that leaders need to change how they communicate about the problem, the project, and the end result.
It is time to throw out the PowerPoint slides which encourage one way communication with the team.
The adoption of change requires a two way conversation right from the start. Rather than telling IT staff about the problem, leaders need to ask IT staff about the problem and how it affects the customer as well as completing their work. The staff are in the best position to understand the issues and the ramifications as they are actually involved in the work every day. They are also in the best position to solve the problem.
Once the problem is known, the IT staff need to be tasked with solving the problem and implementing the solution. Leaders may need to set limits relating to budget, schedule, risk, etc. but if the IT staff are charged with determining and implementing the solution, the adoption of the solution amongst the staff will be higher. The end result will be a stronger return on investment and most likely, a better customer experience.
[i] CEB HR, The Power of Open Source Change Management, May 2016
Join our mailing list to receive the latest insights on culture, innovation, process, and strategy!
At AdOPT, we focus on culture, strategy, process, and innovation to improve performance, increase customer and employee satisfaction, and reduce costs.
Every IT organizations has processes. They may not focus on them after they are created but they do exist. The process includes the steps and decisions that are made to achieve a specific outcome for a customer. In IT, we often see processes relating to managing incidents, fulfilling requests, managing projects, managing change, etc.
Most IT organizations focus on operations at various points in time but improving processes generally means making small changes as a result of some sort of metric or process failure. Rarely do organizations look at how a process can radically change to increase the value that is offered to the customer. When assessing and making changes to processes, if the required results is to dramatically change the IT customer experience, deliver faster results through technology, or significantly reduce the cost of providing service, IT needs to embed innovation into the process. While many IT organizations focus on continual service improvement (CSI), few take the extra steps required to support process innovation.
Supporting process innovation requires enabling thinking outside of the box. Leaders and staff must work to produce results without considering the organizational boundaries that normally exist. Companies that support this type of activity are generally measuring employees on the amount of value they create or sustain vs merely completing specific tasks. IT leaders and staff often have difficulty understanding how IT can be innovative with their processes. It is much easier to understand how IT can support business innovation by allowing for new products, faster delivery of a business service, or automation which supports a cost reduction.
Consider the IT organizations that have focused on finding a way to offer a more consistent, continuous delivery of value to their business. Their efforts are part of the movement we now know as DevOps. DevOps required process innovation as radical change was needed to the change management process by modifying the archaic bureaucratic change management process which required numerous signatures to move code into a production environment. A change management process was still very valuable to an organization as it helped them understand and manage risk but the process had to change to become more nimble and allow for a continuous delivery model which supported a much faster pace of change occurring in the production environment. Many organizations are still evaluating how to make this transition and how this is managed is unique with different companies but modifying change management to support DevOps requires out of the box thinking. It is a great example of process innovation in IT.
When conducting problem management, some organizations merely complete root cause analysis but others have gone a step further. They look at the root cause of customer impact. This is an innovative step that allows them to potentially take dramatically different actions to improve the customer experience. With standard root cause analysis, IT staff evaluate what caused an outage so they can decide if it makes sense to resolve the root cause and reduce the opportunity for a similar outage to occur. When looking at root cause of customer impact, IT is evaluating how they could eliminate the root cause of why the customer even know there was an outage at all. This type of analysis allows IT to significantly reduce the opportunity for the customer to be impacted going forward. An application or system issue can still occur but the customer isn’t aware of the issue and they would still be able to work as if there is nothing wrong with the technology. Root cause of customer impact analysis is another example of process related innovation in IT.
Process innovation rarely occurs unless an organization focuses on how to make dramatic changes which create substantive value for the customer. The standard continual service improvement practices used by information technology organizations do not incorporate the steps necessary to achieve dramatic change. IT organizations should not ignore the opportunity that is created by instilling innovation into how they manage the day to day operations of their business. Taking the time to radically change the “IT process status quo” can not only improve the customer experience and lower the cost of providing service, it can result in increased employee satisfaction and engagement.
Supporting process innovation requires changes to both process development and continual service improvement processes. The more significant change is to the mindsets that exist in the IT organization. Making this leap requires that leaders recognize that not every change will be successful and failure is a necessary part of any innovation. Failure allows staff to test changes, learn from the process, and develop a stronger solution.
Join our mailing list to receive the latest insights on culture, innovation, process, and strategy!
At AdOPT, we focus on culture, strategy, process, and innovation to improve performance, increase customer and employee satisfaction, and reduce costs.
Adopting a Best Practice in IT Requires Effort if You Expect to Achieve a Return
IT organizations usually take part in strategic planning sessions on an annual basis. They also create their own strategic plan. It helps them to accomplish the many objectives that are required to support the business needs of the company. Many times, this strategic plan is the impetus for implementing a best practice.
Ask any executive why they decided to use best practices such as ITIL, DevOps, SIAM, Lean, etc. and you will hear about how they needed to improve their effectiveness, tear down silo’s within their teams, reduce costs, etc. All of the results were needed to support the strategic plan for the business. Follow up with a question asking if they achieved the outcome they were looking for after they implemented the best practice and most likely, you will hear about disappointing or somewhat mixed results.
If the implementation of a best practice underpins a strategic initiative, why do so many best practice implementation efforts fail to yield the expected return? Does this mean the company’s strategic initiative fails because of IT?
The Importance of Having a Vision
For a best practice to achieve the return that is expected, it needs to be successfully adopted as a way of working. The IT staff need to believe it will benefit them and the company. The leadership and staff that are determining the course of action for best practice adoption need to have a vision for the future that everyone can understand. The vision for best practice adoption defines what the organization should achieve by using the new practices. It becomes the “true north” for anyone in the organization that is making a decision regarding the initiative.
Without a vision, the actions of managers and staff often fail to align with the original intent of the initiative. ITIL, DevOps, IT4IT, SIAM, Lean, etc. –Your IT staff will see them as the “flavor of the month” as they are unable to understand what the IT organization is trying to accomplish. It will just be one more task on their “to do” list.
A vision for best practice adoption sets broad direction. It stresses the value of the best practice. It should inspire people and serve as a guide for all decision making. It should be linked to the overall organization achieving its’ business objectives. It should help the IT staff understand how their work connects to the larger organization’s purpose.
Why You Need a Strategy to Achieve Your Vision for Best Practice Adoption
The vision helps staff understand the aspiration of IT when they are adopting best practices but how do you achieve the vision? It can seem very daunting especially when staff do not have experience with a best practice. For staff with experience, often the complexities of the organization and the day to day operations are enough to stop them in their tracks.
A strategy is needed to provide guidance on how you are going to achieve the vision. There are many different courses of action available to reach the destination defined by the vision. Which options are right for your organization given the business objectives, organizational constraints, risks, other issues, and opportunities that exist? By defining the path to reach the vision for your best practice initiative, you are further delineating what needs to be considered when making a decision and allocating resources.
A strategy is not a project. The strategy provides perspective on how you go from the existing state to the destination that was identified in the vision. Strategy sets the course to achieve the vision. The actions that are defined based on the strategy will often form the basis for projects.
Will a Vision and Strategy be Enough to Deliver Results?
A vision and strategy alone will not deliver the intended results but they are foundational. As noted above, the strategy will set the stage for additional actions. Projects are usually created to support the strategy.
In addition, IT should focus on how to help the IT staff and customers adopt the new best practice.
The best practice needs to become the “new normal” that guides the behavior of the entire IT team. Focusing on implementation of the strategy or the actions associated with the strategy will not change behaviors. Implementation focuses on the fulfillment of a particular set of requirements. When the requirements are fulfilled, the implementation is considered complete.
Adoption of a best practice is very different than the implementation of a best practice. Adoption focuses on influencing the attitudes and behaviors of the staff so the use of the best practice is not considered a requirement that needs to be fulfilled. It becomes a new way of working that the staff can’t live without.
Organizational change is often a strategy associated with the vision but is also needs to be a component of every project that is initiated to support the strategy. The focus is the adoption of the best practice rather than merely implementing the best practice.
Why did the Company’s Initiative Succeed Even Though the Best Practice Initiative in IT Failed?
Corporate level initiatives are generally large and complex. The journey to accomplishing these initiatives is often adjusted along the way to compensate for challenges in various areas. Even if the best practice initiative in IT doesn’t yield the expected results, the corporate initiative will most likely succeed but it won’t be at the level that was possible if IT had delivered the expected return. The results are diminished.
Delivering Results from Best Practice Adoption Requires Effort
By now, most of corporate America knows the statistics that 70% of projects fail to deliver the expected results. This research has been conducted numerous times over the past 20 years. Focusing on the adoption of best practice by IT staff and customers and taking steps to set the right course by defining a vision and strategy will help IT to beat the odds.
Developing a vision and strategy are key to helping the team understand what is expected and they provide guardrails for decision making. By further developing an organizational change strategy and plan for best practice adoption, IT will be six times more likely to achieve the expected return on investment and if the best practice is linked to a corporate strategy, IT will be supporting a much stronger result for the broader organization.
Strong business results, greater efficiency, higher employee engagement, increased customer and employee satisfaction, and lower costs are all potential results from IT adopting best practices. Achieving these results requires some extra effort but IT and the broader organization will reap the rewards.
Don’t miss the next blog article. Join our mailing list today!
It is time to break away from the status quo when developing ITSM processes.
Most organizations view the various processes associated with IT service management (ITSM) as internal IT related processes meant to help the IT department be more structured and efficient. They implement processes without considering how they impact the customer and the company. The adoption of best practices isn’t linked to an overall strategic plan and the value of the processes being implemented is never fully recognized. In many cases, the processes may help IT but they become detrimental to the broader organization and they negatively impact customer satisfaction.
When developing processes, it is fairly standard to identify the process purpose and description, inputs, activities, outputs, roles and responsibilities, and policies without really considering the true opportunity that exists and how all of the associated work can benefit the customer and the larger organization.
A significant opportunity exists when you step back and take the time to look at the problem that needs to be solved rather than following the standard practice of developing and implementing ITSM processes. Consider how the processes may change if you first approach the problem in the context of the overall business. This creates an opportunity to find innovative solutions that contribute to the business achieving their objectives which will ultimately improve customer satisfaction with the IT organization.
Rather than merely focusing on processes from the perspective of IT, reevaluate the problem you are trying to solve in the context of your corporate objectives and your customer objectives. Defining a problem statement is a good place to start and it will change how you go about determining the solution and ultimately, defining ITSM processes.
Let’s look at an example for incident management. What is the problem you are trying to solve? Many organizations will say the problem is reducing downtime for the customer. Is the problem we are trying to solve reducing downtime? This is an objective. It isn’t the problem. Why do you want to reduce downtime? The problem could be that technology challenges and outages cause a lack of productivity or loss of revenue. When looking at the problem, look at the bigger picture in terms of the broader organization and the customer.
If the problem statement is too narrow or if there are assumptions made about the problem, the resulting solution will be fairly stagnant. The opportunity to find a new or innovative solution is significantly diminished. If the problem statement is incorrect, the solution will not have the anticipated impact.
The conversation and solution associated with reducing downtime versus technology challenges and outages causing a lack of productivity or a loss of revenue will vary greatly. Framing the problem statement from the corporate and customer viewpoint will open up the opportunity to find a very different, innovative solution. As a result, often there are changes to the activities associated with a process, new roles and responsibilities identified, additional processes implemented, and existing process deficiencies illuminated.
Many IT organizations struggle with the concept of framing the problem based on the company and the customer. They worry that the solution will not be based in the reality they face relating to resource constraints, technology, or funding. Every department faces similar challenges. If boundaries are noted when defining a problem, the opportunity to be innovative is immediately eliminated. A bit of realism can easily be applied as your processes are being developed but it should not be used as a limitation when defining the problem statement.
Beginning your process development work by defining a problem statement for each process will result in an overall stronger process set that supports business objectives and improves customer satisfaction.
Don’t miss our next blog when we discuss why a vision and strategy is critical to the success of any best practice adoption effort. Join our mailing list to stay connected!
What have you done that is innovative? Senior IT leaders believe their teams are innovative but often, they are merely operating within the boundaries that already exist. Leaders may task their teams with finding innovative solutions but without a focused effort, it is difficult to accomplish. IT staff are generally focused on keeping the lights on by solving day to day issues or completing their tasks for the next project.
Innovation requires a concerted effort with support from senior leaders to explore new ideas that may or may not deliver the intended result. If staff haven’t been working in this type of environment, this doesn’t come easy. It isn’t as simple as just giving the team a vision, telling them to explore possibilities, and then giving them a deadline. Unfortunately, this is how many IT organizations work.
"Innovation is seeing beyond the status quo to create significant change to products and services, processes,
or your business model."
It can be difficult for leaders to fully internalize how their reactions can shape the attitudes and behaviors of their teams. IT staff need to think out of the box but in the past if they presented a solution that wasn’t within the existing norms of the organization, it was shot down. Perhaps it didn’t follow a technology standard or it required a high level conversation with another executive. To the staff, it seemed minor. Regardless of how the message was delivered, what they heard is that they need to follow the standard way of doing business.
Three Key Actions for I.T. Leaders to Begin the Journey Toward True Innovation
Take steps to create true innovation within I.T. and for the broader organization. While there is an initial investment, the return will be well worth it.
Don’t miss our upcoming blog article on innovation with IT service management. It is time to break away from the status quo when adopting best practices. Join our mailing list today!
If you are involved in implementing DevOps practices or if you are researching DevOps, you know that culture change is critical to success. Developers and Operations must work together to create high quality deliverables on a frequent basis. For most organizations, bringing Developers and Operations closer together is a significant cultural shift. It is the most important aspect of transitioning to DevOps practices. Without fully addressing the people side of DevOps, you can only make so much progress.
The various DevOps discussions and materials tend to focus on the behavior and subsequent culture change required within the IT organization but what about the business. If you are going change how IT works and delivers services to the business, there is a business impact. They are the customer. They need to be prepared to have discussions about the value of various requirements and deliverables. These discussions require someone at the table that can make decisions about functionality that delivers value, resources that may be required for user acceptance testing, the business impact of delivery schedules, etc.
In the last fifteen years, IT leaders often talked about wanting a seat at the table with the business. They wanted to be involved in strategic decision making and offer advice and counsel on the various initiatives that the business was undertaking. Many IT leaders struggled with achieving this level of involvement. Now there is a new opportunity. In a sense, DevOps creates a brand new table and the business is definitely interested but they need to be involved in the planning as well as the execution so the entire organization can fully recognize the value of changing how the work is delivered.
The culture change required for DevOps involves more than just IT. It needs to include the rest of the business. IT provides foundational technology for the entire company and it may create services that are sold to the community.
It’s great the Development and Operations are recognizing the value of tearing down the silo between the organizations but to be truly successful, it is time to remove the silo that exists between IT and the business. Any organization adopting DevOps practices needs to focus on the behavior changes required across the entire organization.
It’s a new day. DevOps practices involve more than just IT. The business needs to adopt a new mindset as well. Organizational change plans that address IT behavior need to consider the behavior of their business partners as well. The business needs to take the journey with IT to achieve the expected return.
When adopting DevOps practices, engage the business in the early discussions prior to making changes. Even if you want some time to test and learn within the IT organization, take the first step in tearing down the wall that exists between IT and the business. Bring the business into the conversation. Talk with them about your objectives and ask them about the results they would like to see from this type of initiative. Partner with them on developing a strategy and path forward.
Engaging the business in the early conversations relating to DevOps will help to gain their buy in. The behavior change from the business will evolve as DevOps practices evolve in the organization. They will have a voice in the adoption of the changes and while IT Development and Operations are adjusting to a new way of working, the business will be planning and adjusting as well. Inviting the business to the table along with Development and Operations will strengthen the end result and help to tear down the silo’s that have existed for far too long.
To be successful, the adoption of DevOps practices requires a cultural shift from IT and the business. Take the journey together to achieve a much more valuable outcome.
How can Business Relationship Managers Influence Organizational Change? Part 2 of a 2 Part Blog Series
In Part 1 of “How can Business Relationship Managers Influence Organizational Change”, we looked at how Business Relationship Managers can serve as a translator for both IT and their business partners by bringing the benefits of IT work to life for both sides. They can help IT staff and business stakeholders understand the true impact of the work by relating the benefit in a manner that is meaningful. It is about more than saving money or upgrading a server. Business Relationship Managers can explain how the work directly impacts the customer or the employee. They understand the bigger picture but they can drill down to the day to day operational level and explain the benefit which allows all stakeholders to connect with this work at an emotional level and ultimately, improves the adoption of change.
Another aspect of driving change adoption is understanding existing performance as well as progress toward improvement. Business Relationship Managers (BRM) are in a unique position to use metrics to help all of their stakeholders understand the value of the work being proposed or completed through the use of metrics. The metrics can drive action and improve the adoption of change.
The business areas are tracking various productivity and satisfaction metrics. The work completed relating to technology should enable stronger performance in these areas. The BRM should be reviewing these measures with their customer on a routine basis. Work completed by IT is often reflected in these measures. Using our example from part 1 of this blog series, the work to upgrade an ATM may be reflected in the volume of customers using specific ATM functionality, the volume and type of security issues relating to the ATM, or the number and type of support calls about a particular application used at the branch.
Technology supports the business in doing their job effectively. Metrics that are monitored by business partners often show the impact of changes to the technology as well as changes to IT process and changes to the IT organizational structure. Business Relationship Managers are able to use these metrics to show the IT staff how the work they do has a very meaningful impact.
The same metrics can be used to facilitate a conversation with the business about the value IT is bringing to the organization. While the business will also be making changes to strategies, processes, staffing, procedures, etc., and the BRM needs to understand the work that is underway, changes to the metrics also reflect changes taking place to the technology that is used every day by the business staff. With minimal effort, the BRM can help the business understand the value proposition for IT by using metrics to show how IT is supporting business outcomes.
Using business metrics and correlating them to the work of the information technology team will have a considerable impact on change adoption by helping both IT and their business partners understand how the work being completed is affecting success. Additional training, communication, application or other technical enhancements, process and procedure changes, and even organizational changes may result from truly understanding the metrics and how the changes completed by the IT team influences the end result.
Attend the Building Your Business Relationship Management Capabilities Workshop to grow in your role and strengthen your relationship with your business customers!
Join our mailing list to ensure you don't miss another blog or important event! At AdOPT, we are transformation consultants focused on strategy, innovation, process, and culture change to improve IT efficiency, increase effectiveness, and optimize costs. For more information, phone 520-591-2427 or email us at email@example.com.
When an organization adopts new technology or processes, there is a change to how people work. They need to modify their attitudes and behaviors to adopt the changes and this usually results in new procedures, updates to tools, and changing relationships between coworkers or departments.
Business Relationship Managers (BRM) understand the needs of the business and they understand how the IT organization works. BRM’s work directly with business partners to ascertain their current and future needs and they help the IT team navigate meeting these needs. They have intimate knowledge of both organizations and they are pivotal to keeping these organizations in sync.
While some would argue that the BRM should not be spending their time on organizational change management, it is actually a critical part of their role. IT staff often wonder about the value of the work they perform. They are asked to do tasks or take on projects but they aren’t provided with a lot of information. They may be given a copy of a business case but the overall handoff to the IT staff generally does not include the context relating to the true impact of the work they are doing. The BRM’s are in a perfect position to provide this context. They understand both the tangible and intangible benefits. Every communication to the IT staff should talk about the value of IT’s work to the business and relate this information at a level an IT staff member can understand and connect with at an emotional level.
For example, the business case for completing an application upgrade at a bank may indicate that the branches will save millions of dollars and that customer satisfaction will be increased. Generally, this is what IT staff know about the work as it is in the business case. Why should they care? The upgrade could result in lots of additional hours of overtime. In this scenario, the programmer or engineer only sees the negative impact. They don’t connect to the meaning of the work and therefore, they aren’t incredibly motivated to do the work.
The BRM has the opportunity to translate this upgrade into something meaningful for the IT staff. They know the impacts to the organization’s strategic plan as well as the individual employee at the branch. They can relate the impacts to a customer experience. If the programmer or engineer understands that a branch employee will no longer have to contact support about the application when a customer is sitting in front of them or that the upgrade will provide the ability for self service through an ATM rather than requiring a customer to visit a branch, it would make a difference. It would motivate the IT staff member to improve the experience for both their internal and external customers. The BRM is in a perfect position to help IT staff understand why the work is occurring and the true impact of their work. The BRM can tell the story.
On the business side, the BRM understands the various departments, organizational structure, and politics of their assigned area. They are instrumental in setting and managing expectations. The BRM understands enough about the IT organization and workload that they can effectively translate something technical into something meaningful for their business partner.
The BRM also knows their business partners well enough to understand their pain points and what motivates them. They can influence buy in for upgrades, downtime, process changes, IT restructures, and other changes by applying this information in a useful, meaningful way. For example, the server upgrade that will restrict application access for a half a day is required if you want the self-service functionality on the ATM. The ATM downtime this week will allow us to ensure the customer’s information is safe and secure.
The BRM can tell the story to both IT and the business about how their work creates something meaningful for the staff and for the customer. They can link the impact of the work to tangible and intangible benefits that will appeal to leadership as well as the frontlines. They can have a huge impact on the success and adoption of change.
Don’t miss part two of this blog where we’ll talk about how Business Relationship Managers can use metrics to influence change! Join our mailing list to ensure you don’t miss the next blog!
At AdOPT, we are transformation consultants focused on strategy, innovation, process, and culture to increase effectiveness, improve efficiency, and optimize costs. Discover how an cultural assessment can help you identify key steps to influence change adoption. Ask us to complete an assessment today and discover how to improve the return on your initiatives. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 520-591-2427.
Advanced Organizational Performance Techniques (AdOPT) is Now an Authorized Partner of GamingWorks for the Delivery of The Phoenix Project Interactive DevOps Learning Experience
-- The Phoenix Project simulation is an experiential learning opportunity that fosters an understanding of DevOps principles and how those principles can be applied in the real world. --
TUCSON, AZ, October 13, 2016/ -- DevOps is becoming more important as businesses look for ways to achieve a competitive advantage. While best practices relating to DevOps are emerging, it is clear that every organization is unique, every implementation will be different, and that the culture of an organization can make or break the success of DevOps.
Advanced Organizational Performance Techniques (AdOPT) focuses on helping Information Technology and business teams to harness the power of change. By fostering an environment which adapts to change quickly, organizations can achieve a higher level of performance. Over the years, AdOPT has focused on helping organizations adopt and excel in achieving their objectives by customizing various best practices, tools, and techniques and providing advisory services and training relating to the acceptance of change as well as identifying targeted actions to influence organizational culture.
The Phoenix Project simulation is a natural addition to AdOPT's portfolio of service offerings. During this interactive, one day simulation, participants experience situations that mirror the real business world. Projects in trouble, system issues, financial pressures, and new priorities plague the team as they race to provide the technology services required to turn the company around.
The simulation helps to break down the barriers and change resistance that often exists when a new way of working is discussed or initiated. It provides participants with a DevOps experience that becomes a foundational building block for achieving concrete change when they return to the office.
At AdOPT, we are transformation consultants focused on strategy, innovation, process, and culture to increase effectiveness, improve efficiency, and optimize costs.