I just came across a great set of slides put together by Garrett Dimon the creator of Sifter, a bug and issue tracking software package. He talks about the leaps needed to go from creating something to developing it into a fully fledged company. It’s a fascinating insight into the trials and tribulations of starting front scratch and carries some massively important lessons we all should learn. Enjoy!
Interesting post on the New York Times by Dick Brass who used to be a Vice President at Microsoft. He talks about what he believes is one of the downfalls of the company; that it stifles innovation when instead it should be nurturing it. He describes a number of cases where great ideas were sacrificed for personal ambitions; a symptom of an organisation that is politically motivated. This sort of organisational behaviour can be detrimental in the long run and it’s up to the company in question to solve these problems.
Innovation has driven a large part of our life. Without the advances in technology we take for granted today we wouldn’t have fibre optics, or high speed satellite internet. Heck, we wouldn’t even have a wii or Playstation to play on! Who knows what life would be like today if innovation was stifled everywhere?
I came across some good pointers in a magazine which I thought I’d echo here for posterity. They’re good points to remember and provide a good framework for things you need to keep in mind.
- Change must be actively and proactively managed, as unforeseen effects can be costly and risky
- Detailed impact analysis must be carried out, to see what the ramifications will be throughout the company and among all stakeholders
- Behavioural and cultural changes will have the most impact on staff whose working habits are altered by new IT
- The changes that a new IT system will bring must be communicated to those impacted by it in a manner appropriate to their roles and concerns. Psychology is key.
- All stakeholders must buy in to the changes that will impact them, and sufficient time and attention must ensure this happens.
- Hiring a dedicated marketing communications expert specifically to oversee change management programmes can be a good investment.
- It is essential for the CIO to get the board to understand that even apparently non-IT decisions can have IT implications that are costly and risky.
- No IT changes, however trivial, are likely to prove invisible to users.
- CIOs must be aware of appearing focused on the risks of change instead of the benefits
- Change management is an activity in its own right, and will, therefore, require adequate resourcing.
- Change should be managed as rapidly as possible to minimise both the “disruption window” and the time in which other aspects of the business can change simultaneously.
- Becoming the corporate change management expert is a key opportunity for the CIO.
Interesting points there and some that are applicable to lots of different businesses. It’s important to make sure that you adopt these points at the right level though. For example, changing a business model in a small retailer selling pet supplements will require much less invovlement than a big multinational organisation changing ways of workings for example.
“Enterprises must learn how to be less dependent on the shrinking number of folks who are well versed in the applications running the business like COBOL, PowerBuilder, and Oracle Forms,” … “Most CIOs won’t admit it, but not only do many of them not know how these applications work, they don’t know if these applications work. All they know is they’ve got 30 million lines of COBOL code and no COBOL programmers, institutional knowledge, or documentation. They need to go in and liberate their intellectual property from the bowels of legacy systems.”
Does that strike a chord? It’s a quite taken from a post on InfoWorld entitled 7 things IT should be doing which talks about a number of problems organisations face today and gives some advice as to how companies should be dealing with them. Here are the main points:
- Follow your users: Find out what your users really do in their day job. Share their pain and let them help you tailor what you’re offering them.
- Embrace Web 2.0: Your users have high standards as to what applications are supposed to do nowadays. Letting them down will alienate them.
- Tame the data monster: Bad data means that people can’t do their job effectively. Make data cleansing one of your top priorities.
- Flirt with disaster: Disaster planning is only the first step of making sure you can cope with foreseeable problems. Make sure they’re tested and up to date.
- Capture old knowledge: Use toolkits like ITIL to capture and store old knowledge. ITIL Mangement will be a key differentiator for you in the future.
- Plug data leaks: If you don’t have a data security policy and don’t police it, your data could end up in the wrong hands. Make sure you know what needs to be protected and what doesn’t.
- Follow the money: Senior management in the IT department need to have more than a basic grasp of the business drivers of the company. This will help the whole department function effectively.