Sea of Systems
A Handy Guide to Organizational
Learning and Systems Thinking in IT
By James Van Wood
2
If you want to build a ship, don't drum up people
together to collect wood and don't assign them
tasks and work, but rat...
3
Table of Contents
Intended Audience .......................................................................................
4
2. Innovation..............................................................................................................
5
4. Outcome Through Orchestration ..........................................................................................
6
Intended Audience
Sea of Systems is aimed at the CIO, CTO and IT Executive level, as well as at
IT Managers and Professi...
7
Foreword
In business and governance, the environment of the 21st century is
observably different to what it was even ten...
8
in perfect harmony, equilibrium and eternal immutable laws. These laws
could be verified through repeated experiments by...
9
According to Ackoff, an entity is purposeful if it can produce:
1. The same outcome in different ways in the same enviro...
10
Loving Life in the Sea of Systems
Thank you for downloading Sea of Systems! It allows me to share a
refreshingly differ...
11
something works we must understand how it interacts with its
environment. It's all connected, it's as simple as that.
Y...
12
1. Pitfalls
13
There are many pitfalls when it comes to organizational learning. As Peter
M Senge explains in The Fifth Discipline, th...
14
1.2. Moving Forward = Slowing Down
However much we all enjoy the dynamics of a fast-moving IT support
environment, and ...
15
In the above services system model acceptable service quality is limited by
capacity, ultimately having an adverse effe...
16
negatively systemically reinforced in both organizations, customer and
service provider―a recipe for disaster.
Outsourc...
17
Having an excellent grasp of organizational learning can only help,
especially if the IT organization has aspirations o...
18
 We also institutionalize a way to mitigate the risk of a further
recurrence of the same mistakes throughout the IT or...
19
 The aim is to help the greater Business organization to understand the
recurring negative systemic patterns and to er...
20
1.5.1. Context – New Back-up System
Due to asset life-cycle renewal an existing Back-up System was upgraded to
the late...
21
With systems thinking the interconnections between the
components of a system and between the system and other
systems ...
22
Using a different system model we can illustrate the impact of escalating
user demand on the SLA of the Back-up System,...
23
1.5.5 Intrinsic Organizational Complexity
In terms of intrinsic organizational complexity the ramifications were much
f...
24
Quite often the good merits of our limited actions within a
complex systems environment can compromise systems'
integri...
25
gradient of the hill changed over time. What looked doable 10 yards away
suddenly became an impassable trap. It gave a ...
26
1.7 Balancing Process with Delay
In the 'Fit for Purpose Back-up System' example the other system
archetype at play was...
27
The PMO head was on a roll, he had just taken over the post and had
already made several improvements.
The ExCo mandate...
28
Both managers were genuinely committed to solving the problem, they
had good logic and intentions, but they failed. The...
29
1.9 Fixes that Fail
When an initial fix introduces unforeseen side-effects or consequences that
inevitably compound the...
30
The server team discovered that many of the current installed servers were
inactive, they had been used for testing or ...
31
After more time passed, and we're talking about several months now,
someone noticed that costs in IT servers were incre...
32
'Not only is IT expensive it's slow, please do something.'
After one year of struggling with the escalating costs of se...
33
Insidious because the threat is often invisible and undetectable from within
the system of change. More often than not ...
34
 Application strategy
 Asset lifecycle plans
 Business and IT strategies
 Change, problem and incident
management h...
35
and only then can we begin to look at our own system to figure out how to
change it to accommodate what the greater wor...
36
Reflection is the foundation skill for developing a better understanding of
systemic influences and impacts, by support...
37
Becoming Open
In formal project management methodologies like PRINCE2® or PMBOK®
the concept of learning from mistakes ...
38
2. Innovation
39
Feedback
It has to be said that IT management is both one of the most complex and
fascinating forms of management, part...
40
2.1. The Changing Role of Management
Before we turn our attention to enabling innovation I would like to broadly
explor...
41
Lead & Manage → Inspire & Captivate
Let us wake-up to the idea of 'Inspiring' and 'Captivating' people as
opposed to 'L...
42
2.2 Transforming IT by Enabling Innovation ― a Case Study
2.2.1. Context
This particular case study comes from a person...
43
This situation plagues organizations everywhere, it is
unsustainable and will invariably lead to burn-out of certain
in...
44
It is a curious thing the power of an organizational culture
and even though we quite often merely pointed out the
obvi...
45
 Promoting cross-functional 'thinking-events' in IT to improve lateral
thinking and cooperation along the lines of the...
46
2.2.4. Expected & Unexpected Benefits
Surprisingly, and of the pleasant variety, we discovered that many of the
benefit...
47
2.2.6. Systems Thinking Exercise
Using the systems thinking approach we have learned so far, try to identify
each of th...
48
World Café
Juanita Brown, the founder of Whole Systems Associates, collaborates as a
thinking partner and design adviso...
49
2.3. Developing the Innovative IT Management Style
The sources of innovation have changed radically over the past two
d...
50
Planning for innovation is all about laying a foundation, removing negative
systemic influences and becoming receptive ...
51
2.3.3. Are Your IT Managers Enabling Innovation?
The questions we can ask IT leaders to determine whether they might ha...
52
In this chapter on innovation we learned by means of the case study that
the most challenging issues faced by IT Manage...
53
3. Leverage
54
Feedback
It is quite often said that a high percentage of new ideas fail, not because
they are bad ideas, but rather be...
55
3.1. Sustained Competitive Advantage
There is a lot of talk about sustainability nowadays that is because the
ability t...
56
It has become entirely plausible that the only way to
develop and maintain a sustained competitive advantage is
through...
57
By applying a systems thinking approach it is possible to see that this
particular example was governed by the system a...
58
Those IT organizations that are renowned for their
creativity, such as Apple, Google and HP have one thing in
common―th...
59
Each of the disciplines supports each other by building an interlocking
framework that guides the collective learning e...
60
3.3.2. Shared Visions
To create a shared vision, large numbers of people within the IT
organization must draft it, empo...
61
subconsciously hold, not according to the theories that they claim to
believe. If team members can constructively chall...
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  1. 1. Sea of Systems A Handy Guide to Organizational Learning and Systems Thinking in IT By James Van Wood
  2. 2. 2 If you want to build a ship, don't drum up people together to collect wood and don't assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea... Antoine de Saint-Exupery Gene Bellinger, founder of systems wiki and director of Systems Thinking World, summarizes Sea of Systems: “I reviewed James's "Sea of Systems" and found it to be a very well-written introduction to systems thinking tailored to Information Technology environments. The document is quite well structured and written though what makes it most useful is that rather than trying to cover too much about systems thinking it focuses on a few aspects and their explicit relevance to Information Technology environments. In this way the reader very quickly gets a sense of the relevance of systems thinking without being inundated with a lot of material which might overwhelm them and turn them off. For those in an Information Technology environment not familiar with systems thinking the paper is well-worth the read. A point with which it is expected you will agree by the end”. That is the essence of what I have created, a guide that offers an introduction to systems thinking, which is easily digested by any role in IT and useful without being too heavy. The 2013 edition of Sea of Systems builds on the 2011 edition with enhanced and expanded explanations of Deming cycle, reflection, system archetypes, systemic mapping and systems thinking.
  3. 3. 3 Table of Contents Intended Audience .................................................................................................................. 6 Requisite Knowledge ............................................................................................................... 6 Acknowledgments................................................................................................................... 6 Foreword................................................................................................................................ 7 Loving Life in the Sea of Systems ............................................................................................. 10 1. Pitfalls .............................................................................................................................. 12 1.2. Moving Forward = Slowing Down .................................................................................. 14 1.3. Developing Sustainability in IT....................................................................................... 14 1.4. Developing a Learning Culture in IT................................................................................ 16 1.4.1. Learning From Mistakes ......................................................................................... 17 1.4.2. Understanding the Greater Holistic View.................................................................. 18 1.4.3. Recognizing Patterns Throughout Systems ............................................................... 18 1.5 A Brief Introduction to the Systems Paradigm in IT ........................................................... 19 1.5.1. Context – New Back-up System............................................................................... 20 1.5.2 What Does Systems Thinking Tell Us About the Upgrade?........................................... 20 1.5.3 Fit for Purpose Back-up System................................................................................ 21 1.5.4 The Unanticipated Effect of Demand ........................................................................ 21 1.5.5 Intrinsic Organizational Complexity .......................................................................... 23 1.5.6 Lesson Learned ...................................................................................................... 23 1.6 A Brief Introduction to the System Archetypes................................................................. 24 1.6.1 The System Archetypes of IT.................................................................................... 25 1.7 Balancing Process with Delay ......................................................................................... 26 1.8 Shifting the Burden....................................................................................................... 26 1.8.1 Lesson Learned ...................................................................................................... 28 1.9 Fixes that Fail ............................................................................................................... 29 1.9.1 Lesson Learned ...................................................................................................... 32 1.9 A Better Approach ........................................................................................................ 32 1.9.1 Mapping out systemic influences ............................................................................. 33 1.9.2 Inside-out → Outside-in .......................................................................................... 34 1.10 The Importance of the Systems Paradigm in Innovation .................................................. 35 1.11 Reflection .................................................................................................................. 35
  4. 4. 4 2. Innovation......................................................................................................................... 38 2.1. The Changing Role of Management ............................................................................... 40 2.2 Transforming IT by Enabling Innovation ― a Case Study.................................................... 42 2.2.1. Context ................................................................................................................ 42 2.2.2. Innovative Potential............................................................................................... 43 2.2.3. Enabling by Participative Initiatives.......................................................................... 44 2.2.4. Expected & Unexpected Benefits............................................................................. 46 2.2.5. Lesson Learned ..................................................................................................... 46 2.2.6. Systems Thinking Exercise ...................................................................................... 47 2.3. Developing the Innovative IT Management Style............................................................. 49 2.3.1. Time to Rethink Innovation..................................................................................... 49 2.3.2. Innovation the New Power of the People ................................................................. 50 2.3.3. Are Your IT Managers Enabling Innovation?.............................................................. 51 2.3.4. The New Objective for Innovative IT Managers ......................................................... 51 3. Leverage........................................................................................................................... 53 3.1. Sustained Competitive Advantage ................................................................................. 55 3.2. Proverbial Foot Shooting (Limits to Growth) ................................................................... 56 3.3. The Learning & Living IT Organization............................................................................. 57 3.3.1. Team Learning ...................................................................................................... 59 3.3.2. Shared Visions....................................................................................................... 60 3.3.3. Mental Models...................................................................................................... 60 3.3.4. Personal Mastery................................................................................................... 61 3.3.5. Systems Thinking................................................................................................... 62 3.4 Understanding IBM's Three Roles for CIO Success ............................................................ 63 3.4.1. Driving Technology Innovation to Make it Reality...................................................... 64 3.4.2 Raising the ROI in IT................................................................................................ 64 3.4.3. Expanding the Business Impact of IT ........................................................................ 65 3.5. How to Tackle IT? ........................................................................................................ 66 3.5.1 Kick-off.................................................................................................................. 67 3.5.2 Personal Mastery = Personal Choice ......................................................................... 67 3.5.3 Engage Shared Visions ............................................................................................ 67 3.5.4 Focus on Team Learning.......................................................................................... 68 3.5.5 Upgrade Mental Models.......................................................................................... 68 3.5.6 Understanding Interconnectedness .......................................................................... 68
  5. 5. 5 4. Outcome Through Orchestration ......................................................................................... 70 4.1. Bringing it all Together ................................................................................................. 71 4.1.1. The Big Picture ...................................................................................................... 73 4.1.2. How to Use PDCA Effectively................................................................................... 74 4.2. Organizational Learning and Systems Thinking ― Foundation........................................... 75 4.3. Change-Platform ― Change.......................................................................................... 75 4.4. Participative Initiatives ― Focus .................................................................................... 77 4.5. IBM's Three Roles ― Balance ........................................................................................ 77 5. Phased Approach............................................................................................................... 79 5.1. Phase One ― Increasing Business Focus......................................................................... 80 5.1.1. Responsive Indicators ............................................................................................ 81 5.1.2. Responsive Symptoms............................................................................................ 81 5.1.3. Phase one Focus on IBM's Key Roles ........................................................................ 82 5.2. Phase Two ― Increasing IT Value................................................................................... 83 5.2.1. Aligned Indicators.................................................................................................. 83 5.2.2. Aligned Symptoms................................................................................................. 84 5.2.3. Phase two Focus on IBM's Key Roles........................................................................ 84 5.3. Phase Three ― Increasing Innovation............................................................................. 85 5.3.1 Enabled Indicators.................................................................................................. 85 5.3.2. Enabled Symptoms ................................................................................................ 86 5.3.3. Phase three Focus on IBM's Key Roles...................................................................... 86 6. Building our Ship................................................................................................................ 88 Index.................................................................................................................................... 90 Useful Links .......................................................................................................................... 94
  6. 6. 6 Intended Audience Sea of Systems is aimed at the CIO, CTO and IT Executive level, as well as at IT Managers and Professionals working within type I and II service provider1 organizations or IT organizations that provide services to clients within the same organization or group. However, the examples, concepts and ideas expressed throughout the guide may be used in a wide variety of organizations and situations and indeed may benefit a far greater and larger audience than intended. Requisite Knowledge Sea of Systems assumes a minimum requisite knowledge of ITIL® V3, PRINCE2® or PMBOK® Foundation, as a result not all terms and methods are explained in detail. Acknowledgments Author / Editor James Wood, National Australia Bank, Australia Co-readers & Reviewers – 2013 Gene Bellinger, Systems Thinking World, USA Co-readers & Reviewers – 2011 Alfredo Moscardini, The University of Sunderland, UK Christopher Van Eenoo, Commonwealth Bank, Australia Gene Bellinger, Systems Thinking World, USA Gary Franks, Melbourne Water, Australia Nicolas Stampf, BNP Paribas, France Zdenek Kaplan, Ceska pojistovna, Czech Republic Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. May 23 2013. 1 Type I & II service provider refers to standard ITIL® V3 terms, where a type I service provider provisions services within one Business unit or department and a type II service provider provisions services to more than one Business unit within the same organization or group (a shared service). Type III service providers are not featured in this guide, they operate externally and provision services to multiple external customers.
  7. 7. 7 Foreword In business and governance, the environment of the 21st century is observably different to what it was even ten years ago. We are seeing the beginnings of a true global economy where all parts of the economic infrastructure are interconnected. Small events in distant countries can affect events throughout the world. Countries, even the most advanced Western nations, can no longer act in isolation. In a chaotic world, the effect of minor events is no longer confined to one nation or company. Small events are just as likely to produce very large effects and even threaten stability. A new perception of the world, its problems and solutions, is needed to manage and govern a country or region or a business efficiently. Different skills and procedures are necessary to facilitate development in this worldwide context. The urgency of the situation is highlighted by the dependency of organizations on advisory bodies and consultancies. But the same problems are endemic amongst consultants. All consultants work to a paradigm–a set of shared beliefs. There have been several major paradigms in the Western world over the centuries. The work of Socrates, Plato and Aristotle was the basis for the Greek paradigm, which was adopted by the Romans and when the Roman Empire converted to Christianity, the Christian Church then spread throughout Europe. A paradigm shift occurred in the 17th century, which led to the classical or scientific paradigm, which has lasted for almost four hundred years and is still the dominant paradigm of today. This paradigm rests on the work of two great scientists–Descartes and Newton. The scientific method of Descartes introduced analytic thinking. This proposed that to understand a problem, one could break it down to its many components, each component could be solved independently and the total solution can be obtained by combining each component solution. This is often called reductionism. Newton followed the work of Descartes with his study of motion and co- invention of the calculus with Leibniz. He proposed laws, which were thought to be universal and eternal. Thus Newton's ideas led to what was called 'Determinism'. What came to be known as the Classical, Scientific or Newtonian paradigm was a deterministic, linear, reductionist view of the world, which believed
  8. 8. 8 in perfect harmony, equilibrium and eternal immutable laws. These laws could be verified through repeated experiments by a neutral observer. Although the paradigm was devised for the study of physics, it was adopted by other disciplines including economics. One consequence of this mechanistic, reductionist paradigm was the separation of knowledge into separate disciplines which eventually led to the concept of an 'expert' that has persisted for the last century. Till now, the Scientific method has been the established approach for problem solving. 'The scientific method is the process by which scientists, collectively and over time, endeavor to construct an accurate (that is reliable, consistent and non-arbitrary) representation of the world'. The scientific method is relevant to business processes and practices and can provide useful modeling techniques. However new types of problems that are increasingly complex are evolving. They are problems that appear to require a different approach using a different set of tools. Systems thinking revolves around the idea of a system which can loosely be described as a set of objects that have a common purpose. In many ways, as will be seen, it is the antithesis to Scientific thinking although we believe that both can co-exist. Systems theory is also associated with Cybernetics, which can be defined as the control and regulation in the animal and the machine―referring to the interaction between brains and other kinds of systems. Its central tenet is that the way an organization is organized will affect its behavior. The principal aim of an organization is to survive, most often in a hostile environment. To do this, it must be organized in a certain way. The choice of which way is that of the Viable Systems Model. The systems paradigm differs from the scientific paradigm in the sense that it treats the system as a whole and does not rely on the analytic procedures of the former. In this new paradigm, it is the connections between the parts that take precedence over the parts themselves. The behavior of the whole is certainly more than the sum of its parts. Another critical variable is 'purpose.' The scientific paradigm was based on the belief that parts of the system, whilst having their individual functions, did not have independent purposes. This mechanistic view of systems encouraged Leibniz in his definition of 'windowless monads'. In contrast to this, the new systems paradigm is based on the premise that each part of the system has its own purpose but this cannot be achieved independently of the purpose of the whole.
  9. 9. 9 According to Ackoff, an entity is purposeful if it can produce: 1. The same outcome in different ways in the same environment and 2. Different outcomes in the same or different environment The systems paradigm has been defined in various ways but there are certain key elements, which exist in various degrees of importance, in all definitions including: interconnectedness, holism, homeostasis, feedback, recursion, and variety. The Sea of Systems guide to systems thinking in IT offers a practical guide to the systems paradigm, which can be used to build a solid foundation for future development of IT organizations. It also provides an introduction to the new paradigm of organizational learning in the workplace as a way to develop and sustain a competitive advantage in IT. Professor Alfredo Moscardini Sunderland, Great Britain, June 2011
  10. 10. 10 Loving Life in the Sea of Systems Thank you for downloading Sea of Systems! It allows me to share a refreshingly different way to see the world, a way that is more natural, more aligned and just downright more commonsense than what we have been led to believe. Because when we want to find out how something works we believe we must take it apart. We do it all the time, it's second nature, starting right back at high school, when we learned how to dissect a frog to discover its inner workings. In the office for instance, what do we do with big problems? We split them up into smaller problems, making them easier to manage, analyze and keep under control. "Let's take this thing apart", "let's get to the bottom of it", "let's sort ourselves out first before we tackle the rest", "let's take it a piece at a time". All familiar sayings, I know I hear them almost every day, and I'm sure you do too. What's wrong with that you might ask? Makes sense, don't want to bite off more than we can chew. Well it's not so much about throughput as it is about perspective, because when we cut things up into manageable chunks we lose their cohesive purpose and we lose their perspective in relation to the whole. We risk losing our perspective on the world, because everything has become compartmentalized, we go to work and play a role, we come home and play another role, now I'm doing this, now I'm doing something else, this isn't the time or place for it, everything must be in its place, where it belongs. Is it this or is it that? We pigeonhole and categorize just about everything. Of course the paradox is that today we are more connected than we ever have been, and we know we can no longer act in isolation. Yet our existing toolset is based on antiquated principles and thinking that is hundreds of years old, I'm referring here to "modern" scientific thinking and reductionism, which is our default method for dealing with just about everything―take it apart and let's see. Somewhere locked away deep inside us there's a belief that if we pull things apart until we find their smallest little components, we will finally come to understand how they work. The central tenet of systems thinking tells us the opposite is closer to the truth, because in order to discover how
  11. 11. 11 something works we must understand how it interacts with its environment. It's all connected, it's as simple as that. You begin to see now that this is about changing our minds and changing our behaviors, it is making the necessary shift in thinking to be able to act consistently and appropriately with our environment and with the sea of systems that surrounds us every day. James Wood FBCS CITP Melbourne, Australia, May 2013
  12. 12. 12 1. Pitfalls
  13. 13. 13 There are many pitfalls when it comes to organizational learning. As Peter M Senge explains in The Fifth Discipline, these pitfalls are called learning disabilities and in particular those of IT are often too great to overcome without a systemic and systematic approach. Quite often we think of learning as something that happens to individuals. As children we grow up attending schools to learn individually, as adults we attend training courses to improve our knowledge and skills, again mostly as individuals, sometimes it is our curriculum vitae that benefits the most. Indeed, sometimes learning is used for individual advantage, and indeed sometimes people withhold knowledge in order to benefit from it personally. Let's face it knowledge kingdoms are rife in IT and where knowledge equals power they will prevail. To complicate matters we have invented terms like 'intellectual property' and 'copyright', doing so we have inadvertently caught ourselves in a knowledge struggle, which has its most stubborn entrenchment in IT. It requires a systemic and systematic approach to organizational learning to win that battle. How many IT organizations can boast such an approach to organizational learning? Not many, at least from what I have seen, they are usually far too busy in the trenches for that. There are flavors of organizational learning in certain IT disciplines, for instance, PRINCE2® or PMBOK® project management methodologies and Agile Development benefit from organizational learning. But they fail to address the systemic approach, because as we know these disciplines do not encompass whole IT organizations. We need learning gains in all areas of IT, not just in project delivery and development silos moreover, nowadays these areas tend to be outsourced, so how to extend the benefits of organizational learning throughout an IT organization? I would like to make it clear that the knowledge-driven workplace is not about individual knowledge nor learning, it is about the 'collective knowledge' of the organization―where the workplace becomes empowered by the organizational learning environment that surrounds it. The pitfalls of organizational learning are often exacerbated by the subconscious mind and without applying a systemic and systematic approach it can be difficult to achieve the required mental-shift throughout an organization
  14. 14. 14 1.2. Moving Forward = Slowing Down However much we all enjoy the dynamics of a fast-moving IT support environment, and some environments are so fast that there simply isn't time to think—we should acknowledge the fact that it is becoming more and more important to slowdown. We have achieved many things, resolved a lot of incidents, provided services above and beyond the call of duty, but as Aristotle once said, 'the purpose of action is contemplation'. To move forward we need to slowdown and we need to change the way in which IT is working. I am not referring to revamping our ITIL® processes nor kicking off a Six Sigma program, I am referring to the way we work and learn together in IT. It is when we slowdown and take time for reflection that we begin to see systemic patterns of behavior throughout IT systems as opposed to isolated strings of events that often lead to symptomatic or partial problem resolution. The complexity involved in today's organizations and business models has reached a level of intrinsic interconnectedness that we have not seen before. There is no indication that this complexity will plateau or decrease in coming years, so in IT we need to prepare by introducing a systems thinking approach to help us orchestrate and manage the escalating complexity. We must understand all the interrelationships and connections between our systems and between our systems and the whole. To move forward we must slowdown and develop a systems thinking approach throughout IT as a foundation for future development 1.3. Developing Sustainability in IT No matter how good the service is and no matter how well the service appears to be meeting demand, sooner or later the laws of system dynamics will come into play and causal loop feedback will catch up with us. Quite simply put: 'it can't last forever'.
  15. 15. 15 In the above services system model acceptable service quality is limited by capacity, ultimately having an adverse effect on provisioning the service, for instance, not being able to fulfill agreed service levels. No matter how hard the service provider strives to fulfill their obligations, sooner or later the services system model will grind to a halt. In a large service organization that doesn’t benefit from an integrated demand management system this kind of systemic problem can be very difficult to pinpoint let alone resolve. Before action can be taken to resolve the problem the client may well have just moved on. That is the advantage of service on demand, the ability to flex up and down as required. We need systems thinking to understand and to provision with the flexibility that not only matches market demand but leads it. When we observe the world through the often intricate and subtle nuances of systems we start to understand sustainability and just how tenuous the world of service provisioning really is. Another important aspect to consider is that the competitive edge gained through good services may not be enough to sustain an IT organization. Quite often the only solution is to outsource those services that appear to be causing the most pain for the Business2 . Good products, services and processes are portable, they can be provided cheaper and often in higher quality by leveraging the scale of an IT Outsourcer. This may or may not be the right solution and no matter how good the IT Outsourcer is they may only ever address the symptoms of the underlying learning disabilities that hinder sustainability, thereby potentially becoming 2 Business in the context of this guide refers to the greater collective Business organization including: HR, Risk, Compliance, Finance, Company Services, Organization and other group or shared services apart from IT Acceptable Service Quality Demand for Service Capacity of Service Provider Balancing / LimitingGrowing / Reinforcing
  16. 16. 16 negatively systemically reinforced in both organizations, customer and service provider―a recipe for disaster. Outsourcing may defer the cost and risk of providing IT services in-house, but it doesn't address organizational learning nor systems thinking. On the contrary it may have a detrimental impact with far-reaching consequences for both organizations, which may continue to plague the value proposition of IT far into the future. The laws of system dynamics and a lack of systems thinking sometimes lead to the downfall of IT organizations. The 'Four Ps' of the ITIL® service management framework (People, Processes, Products, Partners), help IT organizations to design new services aligned with Business requirements, but they do not necessarily help IT organizations to develop sustainability. With the ITIL® service management framework, just like PRINCE2® or PMBOK® project management methodologies or Agile Development, the intention is certainly there, but they fail to address the fundamental learning disabilities that prevent organizational learning and systems thinking from taking place and thus developing true sustainability. If an IT organization cannot keep up with the rate of change it will fall behind. In today's global economy, products, services, core and non-core IT and Business processes can all be copied. Organizational Learning cannot. It has become perfectly plausible that Organizational Learning is the only way to create a truly sustained competitive advantage. Moreover, an IT organization's ability to learn faster, smarter and better than its competitors may be the only determining factor in its future success. The ability to learn faster, smarter and better than the competition must become a high priority for every CIO and technology leader 1.4. Developing a Learning Culture in IT As people we tend to pick up bad habits along the way, but when an IT organization picks up bad habits it can be disastrous. The kinds of bad habits that are particularly perilous are those influencing an IT organization's ability to learn as a whole organization.
  17. 17. 17 Having an excellent grasp of organizational learning can only help, especially if the IT organization has aspirations of providing a long-term partnership with the Business based on sustainable IT service delivery. Better to forge that partnership healthily and cleanly than to be faced with a major clean-up or outsourcing project later on, or even worse―missing out on Business opportunities through an organizational culture that does not nurture and support their development. Organizational culture in IT as in any other organization 'just happens'; it can be a good culture, a bad culture, a fear culture, a blame culture, a mediocre culture―but there will always be a culture. Culture can be nurtured for the better for all involved if there is a concerted effort on the part of those involved to do so. Rather like belief - we all believe in something - if somebody's belief is good and positive, then fine; but if that person stops believing in good and positive things, then their belief will become dominated with negativity and darkness, it will just happen that way. For an IT organization that is developing it is important to implant commendable and 'good' systemic habits into its organizational culture, habits that support and nurture an open approach to learning as a whole 1.4.1. Learning From Mistakes Using mistakes as an opportunity to learn as a whole IT organization and not as a means to punish, this is the basis for building a successful learning culture in IT:  It is important to understand why mistakes are made and to quickly and effectively elevate that knowledge to the whole IT organization  Open learning sessions should be used to disseminate that knowledge, the goal is to institutionalize the open learning approach and to quickly upgrade skills across IT to avoid a recurrence of the same mistakes  By learning from mistakes in this way we are able to support and nurture an IT culture that is not averse to risk taking and therefore more open to experimentation and developing innovation, whilst taking appropriate measures to manage risk
  18. 18. 18  We also institutionalize a way to mitigate the risk of a further recurrence of the same mistakes throughout the IT organization 1.4.2. Understanding the Greater Holistic View Understanding the holistic view within the wider frame of the greater Business organization should always be paramount:  We understand the concept of de-fragmentation and de-duplication of data, yet we seldom understand the concept of systems thinking in IT  Business organizations consist of a complex set of systems that are ultimately designed to serve one purpose (to survive)  IT organizations usually consist of a complex set of services designed to serve the purposes of individual Business systems  What has happened here is that we have intrinsically introduced fragmentation into the approach of IT  This limits an IT organization's ability to serve the one purpose of the Business  Until we can achieve a true systems thinking approach at all levels in the IT organization we cannot serve the Business 1.4.3. Recognizing Patterns Throughout Systems Recognizing patterns of events that recur within whole systems as opposed to isolated individual episodes is fundamental in making real progress:  Decisions made in Business organizations often have far-reaching consequences that we rarely understand in IT  Given that a Business organization is like a living ecosystem we should realize that its interconnecting complexity cannot be simply fragmented into individual Business systems, without possessing a 'complete' and whole understanding of how the ecosystem thrives  To be truly effective IT organizations must start to recognize the patterns of events that take place throughout Business organizations  This goes hand in hand with slowing down and understanding systems thinking
  19. 19. 19  The aim is to help the greater Business organization to understand the recurring negative systemic patterns and to eradicate them permanently If this sounds a little foreign to you: don't worry it will become much clearer as we continue to explore the sea of systems. The ultimate goal is to create an IT culture that is based on understanding the intrinsic interconnectedness of the sea of systems throughout the whole Business organization 1.5 A Brief Introduction to the Systems Paradigm in IT Throughout the guide the terms systems paradigm and systems thinking are referred to, the following Back-up System example helps in making the mental-shift required for a good understanding. The following example may be an over-simplification but it is effective and can be applied to much more complicated and demanding systems challenges. Often in IT the intrinsic interconnectedness of the systems environment and the greater Business organization is underestimated, the systems paradigm helps to improve our broader holistic understanding by teaching us: 1+1+1+1 = 4 9 Gene Bellinger, founder of Systems Wiki and Systems Thinking World, goes further to say that 1+1+1+1 = Surprise! It is not until we map-out the relevant systemic influences that we can begin to predict what effects they might have on the system.
  20. 20. 20 1.5.1. Context – New Back-up System Due to asset life-cycle renewal an existing Back-up System was upgraded to the latest version of computer hardware (HW) and software (SW). As the upgrade didn't involve any functional changes to business applications, a non-functional business analyst conducted the preliminary study and the upgrade was carried out by the infrastructure support group. Business Users were notified about the change and it was scheduled and successfully completed within a normal weekend upgrade window. 1.5.2 What Does Systems Thinking Tell Us About the Upgrade? At first sight there appear to be four components that comprise the new Back-up System. 1 + 1 + 1 + 1 = 4 However, after considering a systems thinking approach we may draw the picture again. 1 + 1 +1 +1 +1 +1 +1 +1 +1 = 9 Media Web Application Server Database Back-up Application Back-up Media Web Application Server Database Back-up Application Back-up Media
  21. 21. 21 With systems thinking the interconnections between the components of a system and between the system and other systems become equally and in some cases more important than the system's constituent components alone 1.5.3 Fit for Purpose Back-up System With the upgrade and testing completed successfully the new Back-up System was declared fit for purpose and handed-over to operations. From Tuesday through to Friday at 18:00 the Back-up Application produces an incremental back-up of the Database. It takes 30 minutes to complete and finishes before the official end of day processing at 19:00. The new Back-up System turned out to be twice as fast as the old one and the new version of the SW introduced functionality that was not previously available―as the upgrade was considered 'infrastructure' the uplifts in performance and functionality were neither discussed with nor communicated to the Business. 1.5.4 The Unanticipated Effect of Demand After a few weeks of normal operation a group of Finance users discovered that the new system provided an accurate source of intraday data when they accessed the Web Application Server at 18:15, and by running a complex set of queries were able to determine daily profit margins before the official end of day processing started, previously they would not have had access to that data before the start of the next business day. Word soon spread from Finance to Sales & Marketing and before long the demand for intraday reports had escalated enough to affect the performance of the new system impacting its Service Level Agreement (SLA), utility and warranty3 . 3 In the ITIL® service management framework 'Utility' refers to the features of a service and 'Warranty' refers to the conditions of its provisioning
  22. 22. 22 Using a different system model we can illustrate the impact of escalating user demand on the SLA of the Back-up System, leading to performance degradation that rendered the Back-up System unfit for purpose. The performance of the new Back-up System together with the enhanced functionality provided by the new SW, created an enhanced system utility, which after time (delay), attracted Business Users and inadvertently led to impacting the system's agreed SLA and warranty through performance degradation. Reports Performance of Back-up System Finance Reports Sales & Marketing Benefit A Benefit B Gains + + + + + + + The system model illustrates a pattern of behavior. Notice that all the interactions in the pattern are positive. This particular pattern is called 'tragedy of the commons' and the tragedy comes from the fact that every party involved in the system is positive. That is until the common resource, in this case system performance, is completely depleted. New System SLA Meeting The SLA Business Users User DemandPerformance
  23. 23. 23 1.5.5 Intrinsic Organizational Complexity In terms of intrinsic organizational complexity the ramifications were much farther reaching than just one or two Business units, Compliance and Internal Audit were also involved. Using an unofficial source of intraday data to calculate daily profit margins violated financial management code and led to an infringement of standard practice, which could have been construed as fraud if escalated to a regulatory authority. What started out to be an innocuous and above all 'successful' infrastructure upgrade, proved to have far-reaching and hazardous consequences. The original business justification for the upgrade was never questioned and although it was initially considered to be a success the additional cost of post implementation scope-creep was estimated to be at least 40 people-days excluding Compliance and Internal Audit. 1.5.6 Lesson Learned The events surrounding the post implementation phase of the Back-up System upgrade stretched out over a period of two months and preoccupied two external service providers and five Business units. If a systems thinking approach had been used to map out the systemic influences and organizational complexity of the upgrade at the outset, considerable time and effort could have been averted, not to mention operational and reputation risk. The pattern of behavior within the system soon spread throughout the organization and it most likely would have continued spreading if remained unchecked. It would have led to many people becoming frustrated at the apparent positive change that over time became much worse than the original-status. When there are multiple interdependencies and interfaces with other systems throughout an organization it pays to map out all of the systemic influences and model all possible impacts using a system model and well- thought out scenarios.
  24. 24. 24 Quite often the good merits of our limited actions within a complex systems environment can compromise systems' integrity and due to intrinsic interconnectedness and complexity it can be extremely difficult to correctly identify root causes 1.6 A Brief Introduction to the System Archetypes The systems paradigm and systems thinking provide a new way of describing and communicating in the intrinsic interconnectedness of the sea of systems. The more we begin to explore our world through systems the more we come recognize the patterns of behavior and rules of those systems. Just as there are different cultures and patterns of behavior around the world there are patterns of system archetypes that are prevalent throughout our organizations. How many times have you heard people say 'we make the same mistakes over'? Why is that and why do we allow it happen? More often than not an examination of the underlying behavior will reveal patterns that recur throughout the organization. It is because the organization is governed by the system archetypes that are at play. With the 'Fit for Purpose Back-up System' example the pattern of behavior or system archetype was 'tragedy of the commons', where the behavior led to the inevitable depletion of the new system’s performance. The first step in shedding any light on the situation must come from understanding the intrinsic interconnectedness by mapping out the relevant systemic influences that impact our systems. To further complicate matters the systemic influences tend to have different consequences over time. It is rather like having good peripheral vision. In the past I have enjoyed the sport of mountain biking, and as any mountain biker will know, there is nothing like finding a beautiful winding single-track to explore. During fast descents and longer grueling ascents sometimes the focus on getting either down or up can make the goal so important that it becomes an all- encompassing object. Occasionally single-track leads into wooded areas and the trees get closer knit, peripheral vision becomes more important so as not to get knocked- off the bike by low hanging branches to the left or right. I can recall several 'wipe-outs' occurring when I misjudged low hanging branches as the
  25. 25. 25 gradient of the hill changed over time. What looked doable 10 yards away suddenly became an impassable trap. It gave a whole new meaning to the metaphor of 'seeing the forest'. The archetype of 'determined mountain biker' occasionally cost me a few cuts and bruises and new riding shorts in collateral damage for achieving the objective. I was lucky, some mountain bikers are not so fortunate and the price paid can be very high indeed. 1.6.1 The System Archetypes of IT There are nine well-known system archetypes that have been defined by systems thinkers the first five are featured in this guide:  Balancing process with delay – systems that experience sluggishness or degradation after time  Limits to growth – systems that are limited by internal restrictions  Shifting the burden – it is what happens when management teams use symptomatic problem solving  Tragedy of the commons – exploitation of a resource until it becomes scarce or endangered  Fixes that fail – applied fixes have short-term benefits however regress over the longer-term  Growth and underinvestment – an example is underfunded production capacity or underinvestment into IT  Eroding goals – reducing standards in order to meet goals  Escalation – a defensive stance is taken to fend off a misperceived aggressor  Success to successful – successful assets tend to be in demand, often at the detriment of other assets For the purposes of this guide I have restricted the further explanation of the system archetypes to the first five, as they are used in specific examples especially poignant for IT today.
  26. 26. 26 1.7 Balancing Process with Delay In the 'Fit for Purpose Back-up System' example the other system archetype at play was a 'balancing process with delay'. The new system had an increased utility thanks to the upgrade, which after some time (delay), started to attract users' attention, which inadvertently caused a balancing loop, which eventually affected the system's warranty and impacted the agreed SLA. The effects to the system changed in time and eventually rendered the system unfit for purpose. This happened in the space of several weeks, many such system archetypes affect systems over many years. 1.8 Shifting the Burden Another system archetype that is particularly prevalent in IT organizations is 'shifting the burden'. It is what happens when management teams focus on solving the symptoms of problems as opposed to working out the fundamental solutions. Agile development, which uses an iterative method for achieving rapid development, may appear to support improving time-to-market. But it doesn't necessarily solve the lack of business domain knowledge within the role of Business Analyst, which leads to incomplete business requirements and project 'scope-creep' that ultimately increases time-to-market. In the following example, which is based on a real life situation, a financial services organization struggled to launch new products in line with their marketing commitments. The head of the Project Management Office (PMO) was given a task by the Executive Committee (ExCo) to 'fix' the problem, from a scorecard point of view it was mainly in the project space, scope-creep and missing deadlines. New System SLA Meeting The SLA Business Users User DemandPerformance
  27. 27. 27 The PMO head was on a roll, he had just taken over the post and had already made several improvements. The ExCo mandate was to reduce time-to-market and after a brief analysis a decision to go with Agile was made. In his previous job the PMO had successfully implemented Agile, it was his crowning glory before he left to take on the new role at the Bank. Unfortunately he failed to meet the mandate. The fundamental problem was that the role of business analyst was not able to adequately capture business requirements. The PMO head was aware of this and indeed was hoping that Agile would help, as it provides an iterative way to develop applications and may be used to build on capturing business requirements incrementally. The organization suffered from technocratic management, where the management team were technically aware and had a tendency to implement a technical solution to solve problems, especially because they had had past successes in doing so. But the truth was the solutions had only partially worked, providing short-term benefits, before inertia pulled them back. Using a system model it can be seen that shifting the burden had a side effect that compounded the problem, rolling out Agile used up the available budget, so that upskilling the Business Analysts was no longer an option. They had 'shifted the burden' to something else. Not surprisingly before the new PMO head joined, his predecessor had also tried a 'technical solution', he had implemented a formal project management methodology, after having some short-term benefits it ran into problems with delivery over the longer term. Time-to -Market Symptomatic Solution Fundamental Solution Side Effect = No Available Budget Roll-out Agile Upskill Business Analysts
  28. 28. 28 Both managers were genuinely committed to solving the problem, they had good logic and intentions, but they failed. The system archetype of shifting the burden was so ingrained in the culture that failure to address the fundamental solution was inevitable. 1.8.1 Lesson Learned Systems and structure dictate behavior, the system archetypes at play within an organization transcend people and management. They are so pervasive that they endure for years, becoming further entrenched over time. We cannot hope to remedy recurring problems using the same patterns of behavior or solution types as used in the past. What was it that Albert Einstein once said? Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. By increasing our awareness of the systems paradigm in IT we can begin to support our greater Business organizations, in coming to terms with the negatively impacting system archetypes that cause recurring problems. We can also begin to recognize those system archetypes that are positive and strengthening, building on success and reinforcing good systemic practices throughout our organizations. The most frustrating aspect to system challenges comes from the positive contributions of all parties involved, this is why the effects are often described as insidious, everything looks fine however fundamentally things are not quite as they seem
  29. 29. 29 1.9 Fixes that Fail When an initial fix introduces unforeseen side-effects or consequences that inevitably compound the original problem. Fixes that Fail are fundamental to technology however they do not have to pertain to technology fixes alone as the following example will illustrate. We all know how pressure can affect our judgment and when we're under the pump we don't always make the right decisions. Here are some of the key factors that contribute to pressure: 1. Time constraints 2. Peer pressure 3. Perceived need Time Constraints may be tangible and a very real limitation, Peer Pressure is perceived or inferred it is intangible and Perceived Need is also intangible. Simply by understanding the nature of the factors that contribute to pressure we can relieve it and this might be the difference between making the right decision or heading for disaster. The system model above represents a balancing loop on the left side there’s a need (cause) on the right side an action (effect), the action counteracts the need―it is a positive action that has a negative effect on the cause and thus balances the loop. In this case an IT department was forced to reduce cost, the CIO earmarked the server budget, due to its constant growth, and requested that something be done. 'Wow, these servers are expensive, please do something.' Need to Reduce Cost in IT Decommission Servers + -
  30. 30. 30 The server team discovered that many of the current installed servers were inactive, they had been used for testing or other temporary purposes and remained switched on after the requirement had been fulfilled. As a result IT was being billed for operating system instances (OSI) that were not being used by applications and therefore could not be reallocated to Business units. After some time had passed (delay) the server team discovered that they had a lack of servers. So they commissioned new servers to meet demand, the commissioning took some time (delay) as new servers had to be ordered and installed. Need to Reduce Cost in IT Decommission Servers + Not Enough Servers - Need to Reduce Cost in IT Decommission Servers + Commission Servers Not Enough Servers + -
  31. 31. 31 After more time passed, and we're talking about several months now, someone noticed that costs in IT servers were increasing. A year later the situation was much worse than before, server costs had continued to increase and as a result of the delay in commissioning new servers the perception of IT was starting to suffer. Need to Reduce Cost in IT Decommission Servers + Commission Servers Not Enough Servers + - Need to Reduce Cost in IT Decommission Servers + Commission Servers Not Enough Servers + - Lead times of new servers triggered poor perception of IT +
  32. 32. 32 'Not only is IT expensive it's slow, please do something.' After one year of struggling with the escalating costs of server provisioning pressure had begun to reach flash-point. We all know where this could lead to, right? 'We need a new vendor' or 'we must outsource this', would most likely be the conclusion. At this stage there wouldn't be another chance to fix the situation, there wouldn't be any more time wasted, a decision would be made and the case closed. 1.9.1 Lesson Learned Not enough servers was a perceived need, in fact server requirements were steady year to year and matched the increase in applications that had been in constant growth at around 25%. Decommissioning and Commissioning new servers actually increased the provisioning costs twice as much, they paid once when the servers were originally commissioned, then they were decommissioned, and then they paid once again to commission the new servers. The lead times of new servers exacerbated the situation and actually added by compounding the original problem. In order to make high-leverage interventions we must thoroughly understand demand and how different effects change after time 1.9 A Better Approach 'Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose…' as the French say 'the more it changes the more it remains the same'―one of the eternal challenges of managing change and one very good reason to turn to system dynamics and systems thinking as effective ways to understand and control the very real and insidious threat. Not Enough Servers Commission Servers Lead times of new servers triggered poor perception of IT
  33. 33. 33 Insidious because the threat is often invisible and undetectable from within the system of change. More often than not we throw more assets and resources at it, with the attitude, 'look, we've made the decision, we all agreed, now we'll bloody-well get on with it'. Brave and true to the cause, but sometimes, we just need to admit failure, accept failure and above all understand failure. It is in understanding failure that system dynamics and systems thinking come into their own. 1.9.1 Mapping out systemic influences The first step in change or intervention is mapping out the systemic influences that could impact the system of change. When we talk about systems we are using the definition of system provided by Professor Moscardini in his foreword: 'a system which can loosely be described as a set of objects that have a common purpose'. We are surrounded by systems, not just technological systems but systems of every kind, societal, political, ecosystems in nature. When we embark on a change or intervention we are surrounded by the system of change. In this context systemic refers to any influence that is, has or may potentially impact the system, in any way whatsoever. You may be familiar with structured change management methodologies, where an impact assessment matrix is used to map-out impacts to business processes according to roles and business units. These impacts are normally limited to areas such as tooling and skilling, however, when we conduct a systemic mapping analysis we must go much further and deeper, as well as forward and backward in time. In order to create a solid understanding of our interventions we must build a multidimensional systems model that can be used to actually live-out each scenario for change. It is therefore very important to slowdown using reflective techniques and become aware of the system as it really is. Without the noise and the pressure to change, we need a clear and unwavering sense of clarity to be able to discern the reality of our systems. 'Take a BIG step backwards and take some DEEP breaths.' Here are some of the systemic influences pertaining to server decommissioning (thanks to Nicolas Stampf for suggesting this):
  34. 34. 34  Application strategy  Asset lifecycle plans  Business and IT strategies  Change, problem and incident management history  Cloud computing and server hosting  Datacenter strategy  Demand management  Facilities management  IT budget  License costs  Maintenance costs  Operations strategy  Outsourcing  Power consumption and Green IT  Procurement policy  Project portfolio and program management  Software as a Service (SaaS)  Technology roadmap  Vendor performance management It's not as simple as switching-off boxes or racks in the datacenter, it is a complex decision with many variables and unknown factors that can impact the end result. 1.9.2 Inside-out → Outside-in When we are in the system of change it is sometimes very hard to take a different perspective and all too easy to keeping forging ahead, absolutely determined in our conviction to succeed. Sometimes however we simply must take stock, and typically we look inwards, with the attitude 'right, let's sort ourselves out'. How many times have you heard people say 'we've got to fix ourselves first before we start to fix the external environment'? It's an honorable intention, but it isn't very likely, given the state we are in. Remember: plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose―we must look from the outside-in. The key we often forget when we are under-fire is to divorce ourselves from the system and to examine it from the outside-in and from every conceivable perspective and dimension. It is the interconnectedness of the system that is paramount and often we find the interfaces and relationships between the objects of the system and the objects of other systems to cause us pain, not the system itself but rather the way in which the system interacts with the sea of systems around it and vice versa. It is when we have a complete understanding of these interrelationships and interactions, especially in the dimension of time, that we can say with any degree of certainty we are making high-leverage interventions. Then
  35. 35. 35 and only then can we begin to look at our own system to figure out how to change it to accommodate what the greater world of systems expects from it. When the pressure's on and we’re under the pump it's easy to take the easy way out―however it is always a good idea to slowdown, never be forced to make fast and inaccurate decisions based on pressure 1.10 The Importance of the Systems Paradigm in Innovation If we genuinely want to innovate we must understand intrinsic interconnectedness and how the system archetypes can easily thwart and indeed support our efforts at innovation. If we do not then we run the risk of our innovations being short-lived, which discourages people's interest and more importantly turns-off possible sponsors and investors from supporting our future endeavors. We must take the time to slowdown in order to identify the system archetypes and the myriad systemic influences and barriers that are impacting the sea of systems surrounding us. If we genuinely seek to foster an environment where innovation can take hold and become a sustainable approach to our development, then we must invest into systems thinking 1.11 Reflection Of all our skills reflection is probably the most underutilized and unexplored. Reflection is what sets us apart as human beings and makes us the people we are. It calms our minds and allows us to make impartial and considered choices. Reflection opens the door to genuine self-inquiry and ultimately self- transformation. In the workplace it strengthens a team's intellectual viability and obviates unnecessary conflict and struggles in understanding. Reflection is the key to a more harmonious and fulfilling life.
  36. 36. 36 Reflection is the foundation skill for developing a better understanding of systemic influences and impacts, by supporting systems thinking and allowing a more thorough analysis of the complex events that take place around us. By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; Second, by imitation, which is easiest and third by experience, which is the bitterest. Confucius. One common form of reflection is the After-Action-Review (AAR); after a meeting, get together with your team and inquire about: what happened, what we expected to happen and what can we learn from the gap. Practice the AAR after every meeting and encounter, take ten minutes to grab a coffee, or as you are wandering back from the meeting room, ask the three questions Tip: Individual reflection is a powerful tool for self-clarification and understanding our versions of the truth, sometimes it is good to reflect individually before engaging a team in clarifying our own or the whole team's perception. Commonly known as 'taking a step backwards', individual reflection can help us to get our perception straight before we take action that could be detrimental to the desired result.
  37. 37. 37 Becoming Open In formal project management methodologies like PRINCE2® or PMBOK® the concept of learning from mistakes is embedded into the method, at the end of each project stage lessons to learn sessions are organized by the project manager and the results are recorded for future reference. When a new project is started the project manager checks recorded lessons from previous projects to avoid making the same mistakes over. In IT we are focused on delivering outcomes for our clients, we rarely spend time understanding our failures, when mistakes are made sometimes they are used to punish as opposed to learn. More often than not errors are simply 'swept under the rug'. Becoming open requires a mental-shift in prevailing attitudes, people must feel safe and comfortable coming to terms with their past and present failures. This approach must be supported with dedicating time to discuss failures at the team and organizational levels. The objective is to develop a strong shared understanding and to be open and receptive to failure across the whole IT organization
  38. 38. 38 2. Innovation
  39. 39. 39 Feedback It has to be said that IT management is both one of the most complex and fascinating forms of management, particularly within the financial services segment, where the enterprise back-bone is solely dependent on technology. Over the years I have been fortunate to experience numerous styles of IT management, from savvy high-flying entrepreneurs, to old school bits and bytes data center generals, and anything in between. In today's business climate CEOs everywhere are asking more from IT management: faster time-to-market, better data quality, improved interoperability, better and faster innovation, on-demand just about everything, and 99.99% availability―just to be sure. So how to develop our capabilities amidst these increasing and escalating demands? Especially when we are faced with ever increasingly complex organizational models and the any-way flexibility required by more demanding and choosy customers. One thing is for sure, today IT is recognized as the major enabler of Business though innovation I want to briefly explore the definition of innovation in the context of an IT services organization. For me innovation must meet three core criteria: ✔ It must improve client productivity ✔ It must be tried and tested ✔ It must support client strategic direction If innovation can meet those criteria it has a purpose for the organization and it contributes to its advancement. When innovation is deficient in the criteria it runs into problems. For instance: improving productivity at the detriment of strategic direction, which may lead to more longer-term challenges. That does not mean innovation cannot change the game, it can, but when it does we must revisit strategy to ensure alignment.
  40. 40. 40 2.1. The Changing Role of Management Before we turn our attention to enabling innovation I would like to broadly explore the definition of management. I am interested in the changing nature of the role of management as opposed to the textbook definition of what the purpose of management is supposed to be, or indeed what we were once taught in college or have learned in organizations. I will share some of my views on today's management with a focus on those factors I consider expedient to change. It is necessary to consider a broader picture than just limiting our focus to the value-chain. For me the value-chain is one of the causes of dysfunctional management, along with ego. Much too much focus on 'creating value' and not enough focus on creating 'compassionate' and 'rewarding' working environments. Due to the systemic reinforcement that automatically takes place within organizational cultures, the following list of 'bad habits' has reached plague and in some cases pandemic proportions. Fix it → Cure it It is not so much a question of fixing problems, which has undoubtedly been the priority for many managers over the past decade, it is more a question of 'curing' those problems―so that they do not come back to haunt our children. Spotlight → Floodlight Fire-fighting and symptomatic problem management together with reacting quickly to fix business problems to address 'external market pressure' or decreasing 'time-to-market' can lead to detracting from IT management focus and achieving real results for the 'whole' organization. Told to → Just do Managers should be nurturing an environment that stimulates the shift from 'Told to' to 'Just do', where a highly empowered and motivated process team that takes pride in their work, team achievements and performance without being told to.
  41. 41. 41 Lead & Manage → Inspire & Captivate Let us wake-up to the idea of 'Inspiring' and 'Captivating' people as opposed to 'Leading' and 'Managing' them. In some Eastern philosophies there is the idea of the ruler that 'abdicates' his power and leaves the people to just 'get on with it'. Rule by not ruling―he is the most successful ruler, who in return receives love, admiration, devotion and commitment from his people. When people are happy and have a good sense of well-being and appreciation they are also more productive. Must do → Want to Managers should be facilitating the shift from 'Must do' to 'Want to' in terms of motivation and engagement. Nobody likes to be forced to do anything, and quite frankly why should they be forced? People need a shared vision of the future, which they can believe in and agree to before they will genuinely want to commit. Managing → Enabling As a management team we must make the overarching shift from 'Managing' to Enabling'. This can be manifested in various ways, for instance: 'manager as coach'. It is the role of the manager to 'Enable' not to 'Manage'. This is what we must change and especially in IT as IT is all about enablement. We're a long way from achieving the modern knowledge- driven workplace environment that is desirable for people in organizations today and it is our collective responsibility to enable it
  42. 42. 42 2.2 Transforming IT by Enabling Innovation ― a Case Study 2.2.1. Context This particular case study comes from a personal experience where I was very fortunate to have been involved in changing a prevailing organizational culture and in introducing and enabling an innovative environment between Business and IT. The subject was an IT department functioning as an internal service unit and type II service provider, that is to say an IT organization who provided services to clients within the same organization or group, which was suffering badly from a 'poor business perception'. Does it sound familiar? The primary mode of working was 'keep-the-lights-on' and the unit was experiencing staff retention problems, top IT specialists were leaving for industry leaders like IBM and HP. The business perception of IT was at best 'reactive' and there were many complaints about 'lack of innovation' and 'poor business contribution'. The IT unit was very much under scrutiny and in the line of fire, there were rumors circulating about possible outsourcing and morale was low. The previous IT management had been closed in the basement, quite literally, and had focused mainly on operations. This was partly due to underinvestment over a five year period, which preceded a merger with another organization. As a result there were significant systemic barriers that had been erected over the years, which had led to serious communication and cooperation breakdown between the IT engineering, IT operations and IT support teams. Another hitch that had manifested itself into the organizational culture, was that IT was supposed to 'come up with all the ideas', and as a result there were no ideas. Business people were complaining about the innovative contribution of IT and indeed were themselves coming up with ideas, but neither the Business nor IT did anything with them. It was a kind of 'innovation stalemate', innovation existed but it was not leveraged and mainly due to the prevailing organizational culture. It almost seemed like the harder people tried, the worse things became. The result was that a lot of people had a feeling they were working flat-out and yet nothing much was getting done.
  43. 43. 43 This situation plagues organizations everywhere, it is unsustainable and will invariably lead to burn-out of certain individuals whom are trying hard to contribute, but keep hitting systemic barriers that prevent them from moving forward 2.2.2. Innovative Potential The first thing that struck me about the situation was that innovative ideas were to be found everywhere throughout the Business and IT―they just weren't being leveraged. The IT people were either too proud or had their heads in the sand, quite often a 'lack of resources' or 'security' were cited as the 'problem', and the Business people were too busy complaining and pointing the finger at IT. It was a vicious circle that had manifested itself over a number of years, becoming strongly ingrained with emotions, misunderstandings and incorrect assumptions. We began by mapping out the many systemic barriers and influences that existed, they seemed to be quite obvious to anyone who was observing the situation from the outside in. Realized Innovation Organizational Culture Sources of Innovation Systemic Barriers
  44. 44. 44 It is a curious thing the power of an organizational culture and even though we quite often merely pointed out the obvious many people were still unable to see 2.2.3. Enabling by Participative Initiatives On completing the systemic picture it was possible to develop a number of initiatives that specifically addressed each of the barriers that had been inhibiting or preventing innovation from becoming reality. When making real changes to an organization always use the Deming cycle 4 of Plan Do Check Act. An annual cycle is ideal: Q1 = Plan, Q2 = Do, Q3 = Check, Q4 = Act. Get it embedded into the culture it perfectly complements systems thinking and introduces change without the need for crisis. It was important to focus on making real changes to the organizational culture by introducing participative initiatives that 'bridged' the divide between teams in IT and between IT and the Business. Some specific examples of how we removed the barriers:  By facilitating an IT end-user forum to capture Business ideas and introducing a governance model and cycle that allowed the Business to prioritize the ideas for further working-out and potential fast-tracking  Bringing decentralized IT teams together with monthly meetings and forming Communities of Practice  Holding regular off-site brainstorming and creative sessions for IT management  Inaugurating an award ceremony for 'IT Professional' & 'Innovation of the Year' (the prize was a laptop)  Introducing a 'team coach' to support senior IT management in achieving a mental-shift in thinking 4 For a more detailed explanation of PDCA see section 4.1.2 P D A C
  45. 45. 45  Promoting cross-functional 'thinking-events' in IT to improve lateral thinking and cooperation along the lines of the world café5  Making it clear that it was safe to experiment by establishing a creative- space6 on team meetings and by holding regular lessons-to-learn sessions  Publicizing creative efforts and new innovations and openly rewarding people for their contributions These were simple steps and yet the results were incredible, after one year it was a different organization and definitely out-of-the-basement for good. With the systemic barriers removed the participative initiatives acted as focal points for sources of innovation throughout the organization, providing conduits through which innovation was able to permeate and flow through the organizational culture 5 Please see the call-out at the bottom of page 52 for a further explanation of the world café 6 Please see the call-out at the bottom of page 73 for a further explanation of creative- space Focus Focus Focus Realized Innovation Organizational Culture Sources of Innovation Participative Initiatives
  46. 46. 46 2.2.4. Expected & Unexpected Benefits Surprisingly, and of the pleasant variety, we discovered that many of the benefits were unexpected. Another surprising aspect was that the benefits strengthened over time, it showed us that the concepts we had introduced were being used and internalized by the people and had indeed become systemic and part of the culture. We managed to create a successful system archetype to nurture and reinforce innovation throughout the organization, not just in IT but in the Business also. Here are some of the key benefits we harvested as a direct result of our interventions:  Improved innovation & creativity leading to a significant engagement improvement for internal-customers (Business)  Improved levels of cooperation, collaboration and interest throughout IT  Improved leadership skills of IT managers and team leaders (unexpected)  Reduced number of unresolved incidents (unexpected)  Reduced number of escalated issues (unexpected)  Improved IT employee retention and stabilization  A marked improvement in IT employee motivation and willingness to contribute  Improved time-to-market capability due to product development optimization (unexpected)  Increased productivity throughout IT (unexpected) 2.2.5. Lesson Learned People are innovative, it is their nature to be, not all organizations and organizational cultures are, so in order to leverage the innovative power of our people we must change our organizations by making real changes to the prevailing culture.
  47. 47. 47 2.2.6. Systems Thinking Exercise Using the systems thinking approach we have learned so far, try to identify each of the five system archetypes at play in the case study. Take a few moments to quietly reflect on the case study, think about some of the similarities that may be found in your current or in a past organization to a lesser or greater degree. System Archetypes Balancing process with delay – systems that experience sluggishness or degradation after time Limits to growth – systems that are limited by internal restrictions Shifting the burden – it is what happens when management teams use symptomatic problem solving Fixes that fail – applied fixes have short- term benefits however regress over the longer-term Growth and underinvestment – and example is under funded production capacity or under investment into IT Eroding goals – reducing standards in order to meet goals Escalation – a defensive stance is taken to fend off a misperceived aggressor Success to successful – successful assets tend to be in demand, often at the detriment of other assets Tragedy of the commons – exploitation of a resource until it becomes scarce or endangered
  48. 48. 48 World Café Juanita Brown, the founder of Whole Systems Associates, collaborates as a thinking partner and design advisor to create and host forums for constructive dialogue on critical organizational and societal issues. With her partner David Isaacs, Juanita is the co-originator of the world café, an innovative approach to large group dialogue. The world cafe concept is simple and effective, it involves setting out a large room in cafe style, with small tables of four scattered around the room. The rules can vary, but I prefer to have a facilitator on each table who holds the context for the table's dialogue. The facilitator remains on the table and keeps the context, whilst the participants cycle between each table throughout the session participating in the dialogue on each topic. It allows a great number of people to become familiar with several topics, one for each table, and allows the facilitators to rapidly understand broad views on the topics at hand
  49. 49. 49 2.3. Developing the Innovative IT Management Style The sources of innovation have changed radically over the past two decades, today innovation can appear from almost anywhere. In order to take advantage of this huge potential our organizations and management approaches must change. Our organizations must become more receptive and the old and sometimes very subtle negative systemic influences and hurdles must be identified and removed. We must find a way to make innovation flow, so identifying and removing old and entrenched obstacles is a prerequisite 2.3.1. Time to Rethink Innovation When we think of innovation we tend to think of the same old things, and those are the same old things that quite often prevent innovation from becoming reality. For instance, how should we assess an IT manager's innovative leadership potential? Many people would ask to see a vision, 'show me your vision for innovation'. Followed by building an understanding of their ability to explain the vision and its subsequent translation into strategic and operational objectives. This is a typical and traditional approach to assessing innovative potential. But do vision and clearly defined objectives have anything to do with innovative potential? I do not believe they do and moreover, if anything vision is one of the biggest inhibitors of innovation. Why would we want to predetermine something that is intrinsically indeterminable? Already we can begin to see the subtle systemic intricacies that can so easily thwart our attempts to enable innovation. Rather not confuse this notion with planning for innovation, it is necessary to plan and to enable innovation, but that is different from predetermining or outlining a particular vision or strategy for achieving it. 'Let it bubble- up.'
  50. 50. 50 Planning for innovation is all about laying a foundation, removing negative systemic influences and becoming receptive as a whole organization. People tend to link vision with innovation, but that has nothing to do with innovative leadership potential nor ability. That is what we have been taught by our organizational cultures but it isn't necessarily true 2.3.2. Innovation the New Power of the People Today a successful 'innovative IT manager' is defined as someone who can apply the appropriate leverage to innovation and nurture innovation for the benefit of the greater good. It does not mean that the IT manager is an 'innovator', and perhaps far from it, it means that the person can identify and appropriately leverage innovation - from wherever it originates - either within or external to his or her IT organization. We all know that the 'real' sources of innovation have changed, they are no longer within the exclusive realm of special development teams, neither innovative strategies, nor R&D. The age-old paradigm that the boss always comes up with all the ideas is also history. Innovation is something that belongs to People, so the best cutting-edge innovative IT managers should also be the best leaders of People. Effective IT leaders must be able to identify, nurture and apply appropriate leverage to innovation. They should no longer live with the misconception that they are in some way 'leading' the innovative process, even less to implement special strategies and visions to 'manage' innovation. After all what is innovation really about, ego, or progress? Innovation belongs to the People of our organizations, and not just to management and specialist groups
  51. 51. 51 2.3.3. Are Your IT Managers Enabling Innovation? The questions we can ask IT leaders to determine whether they might have innovative leadership potential and abilities may include the following themes:  Ability to identify, acknowledge and use innovation regardless of where it originates  Ability to mentor and coach people in developing their Innovations  Ability to unambiguously position the value of innovation within the frame of achieving operational and strategic objectives  Ability to clearly position innovation in terms of strategic, customer, and financial contributions (productivity)  Ability to identify and remove negative systemic influences and organizational barriers that often prevent innovation  Ability to support risk taking and encouraging experimentation throughout the organization, both in Business and IT units  Ethos of not using failure as a means to punish, but as a means to learn as a whole organization  Ability to share and publicize creative and innovative endeavors throughout the organization  Ability to openly reward and encourage innovation for instance by inaugurating and holding an award ceremony 2.3.4. The New Objective for Innovative IT Managers The new-age IT manager's goal in applying leverage to innovation should be to embed and strengthen innovation within the organizational culture itself, to institutionalize innovation by making it clear to the organization that this is the attitude expected. The culture-shift must be facilitated carefully at all levels and especially systemically in order for innovation to become reality and this is what makes an IT manager truly a great leader in innovation
  52. 52. 52 In this chapter on innovation we learned by means of the case study that the most challenging issues faced by IT Management in delivering innovation were enablement and leverage. That brings us to next step in our journey―learning how to leverage our most precious assets. The Innovation Challenge Many organizations encourage innovation through innovation awards, many societies and media groups publicly reward innovation through innovation programs and award ceremonies. Despite these efforts many organizations still struggle with innovation. Innovation programs attract innovative people and groups that are quite often strong enough to fight for their innovation. The Innovation challenge is not about attracting innovative individuals nor isolated groups but rather about embedding innovation 'openness' throughout the organization. Therefore, the real challenge with innovation comes with sustaining it and that is why organizational learning becomes fundamental as it provides a sustainable foundation for learning and development of the whole organization. The goal is to increase the amount of innovation being realized throughout an organization by achieving a culture-shift
  53. 53. 53 3. Leverage
  54. 54. 54 Feedback It is quite often said that a high percentage of new ideas fail, not because they are bad ideas, but rather because their inventors cannot leverage them. Many great ideas fail because they cannot get off the ground; add to the equation a busy IT support environment, budgetary constraints, resource issues, deadlines, priorities and governance, and it is hardly surprising that even the most brilliant of ideas quite often get shelved. Sometimes for good, especially given our rapidly changing organizational environments. If we also consider an organization's inability to learn, then it is surprising that we manage to deliver any innovation at all. Quite often we are struggling to keep our heads above water, in implementing somebody else's innovation let alone bringing our own innovation to the table. We have looked into some key ways how to enable and develop the innovative management style, what we need to do next is find out how to leverage the whole of IT in bringing the newfound innovation to fruition. Moreover, to create leverage intelligently and efficiently we need to build a central nervous system through which is channeled knowledge, information and innovation. A central nervous system that connects and unites the whole of IT, from CIO to Data Center Operator, each member of the IT organization must be connected to the same 'bus' concurrently in real-time. Often the central nervous system only works when we feel pain―'get it fixed', 'restore service', and when the lights return to green once again we become disconnected. In the human body the cervical vertebrae (neck bones) in the neck connect the brain to the spinal cord and rest of the body, which enables the central nervous system to function, any fracture or injury of the vertebrae can result in loss of sensation, paralysis, or death. How is the central nervous system in your IT organization? Does it suffer from a momentary loss of sensation, is it partially or completely paralyzed or has it already passed away to be resurrected by an IT Outsourcer?
  55. 55. 55 3.1. Sustained Competitive Advantage There is a lot of talk about sustainability nowadays that is because the ability to sustain has become a key driver behind today's culture and environment, whether it is political or societal. Sustainability is one of the key deciding factors in any organization's future success, even more so for IT organizations. Moreover, the ability for an IT organization to create a sustained competitive advantage has become critical for its own survival and in some cases for the survival of the Business it supports. If an IT organization cannot keep up with the rate of change it will fall behind, becoming a source of pain that leads straight to outsourcing. The crux of the problem for IT organizations is this: Technologies, Applications, Processes, Methodologies, Techniques, Standards, Principles, Guidelines and even Management Styles are all portable. They can all be copied, re-bundled and reused and with the economy of scale factors leveraged by IT Outsourcers, many IT organizations do not stand much of a chance. When for instance SAP went large with Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), it gave the early adopters a competitive advantage, because their order and fulfillment processes were all of a sudden much more efficient. Twenty years later the market is saturated with ERP consultants and almost all enterprises share the same competitive advantage. Those PMOs that have implemented PRINCE2® or PMBOK® project management methodologies properly, have a distinct competitive advantage, because their projects will always have a continued business justification and will realize healthy Business benefits according to the agreed time, scope, budget, risk and quality. Invest in PRINCE2® or PMBOK® and acquire some experienced practitioners and you too can enjoy the same competitive advantage. You can see where this is leading, right? A competitive advantage only really counts if it can be sustained. Technology alone is not going to do that, not anymore. Whatever an IT organization does today to create a competitive advantage using technology or processes, there is a fair chance it is already being done better and cheaper by their competitors.
  56. 56. 56 It has become entirely plausible that the only way to develop and maintain a sustained competitive advantage is through organizational learning. It must come from within, if every conceivable advantage can be bought, then it must originate from what cannot be bought―the amalgamation of the collective intelligence that is produced when an organization learns 3.2. Proverbial Foot Shooting (Limits to Growth) As we have learned from our own experience with working in organizations, organizational learning can be an elusive animal. Often prevailing organizational cultures work against our attempts to introduce a learning culture. There are many learning disabilities that prevent us from making progress and those disabilities tend to be ingrained into organizational cultures. By nature many financial services organizations, such as Banks, are conservative. They are risk averse and are driven by strict risk management governance, which over the years has permeated their organizational cultures and inadvertently become a major inhibitor of making progress in a rapidly changing market. Internet-based banks, which are considered by some to be 'riskier' than traditional banks, are more efficient and they have incomparable Cost / Income ratios that quite simply cannot be achieved by traditional bricks and mortar retail banks. Therefore, they can offer better rates of interest and reduced banking fees. The values we trust and believe in the most are often the very same values that restrict our progress. When those values become institutionalized they become systemic, affecting whole divisions and indeed whole organizations. They begin to govern the organization and actually determine what the organization can and cannot achieve. This is why many programs fail to deliver - even big-ticket programs with high-visibility and solid management - even these programs regularly fail. Annoyingly it is very difficult to find out why they fail, hard to put a finger on it. Usually 'insufficient change management' or 'planning' are cited as the 'reasons'.
  57. 57. 57 By applying a systems thinking approach it is possible to see that this particular example was governed by the system archetype called 'limits to growth', where the Bank's potential growth was limited by the risk averse and conservative nature of its system. In order to combat the system archetypes it is essential to challenge the prevailing organizational culture. It is hard to do this in whole organizations, it takes time and commitment. However, in IT organizations it can be much faster and the benefits can be pivotal to the whole organization's future success 3.3. The Learning & Living IT Organization As IT leaders we must set our sights on The Learning and Living IT Organization. In the human body the central nervous system and the brain manage this by receiving and processing impulses received through sensory receptors throughout the body. It is a complex interconnected system, which when working correctly constitutes an 'amazing learning machine'. That is what we must become in IT―an amazing learning machine. Our approach needs to become institutionalized creating a self-governing and living organism with its own sustainable sources of innovation and learning. Often IT organizations go too far in one direction, they can become too focused on the hard artefacts of IT. If we want to create a truly living IT organization it is important to find an acceptable balance between creativity and logic. In a similar way to the human brain, we need to cater for the creative side as well as the logical side of our IT organizations. Bank’s Risk Appetite Bank’s Growth Potential Risk Averse Culture RestrictionOpportunity
  58. 58. 58 Those IT organizations that are renowned for their creativity, such as Apple, Google and HP have one thing in common―they apply a consistent approach to organizational learning To embed organizational learning into our IT organizations we must first familiarize ourselves with the five organizational learning disciplines that comprise The Learning Organization, these learning disciplines help to support the creative side of IT and act as a catalyst for the logical side―a win / win outcome for the development of IT organizations. The five disciplines of organizational learning are:  Team learning  Shared visions  Mental models  Personal mastery  Systems thinking When we speak of discipline in the context of learning it often has negative connotations, stirring childhood memories of the endless hours of homework and swatting for examinations and the accompanying fear of failure. This is quite the opposite of what we really want to say with the word discipline in the context of organizational learning. It is more akin to the Latin root of the word, 'discipulus', which means student―a student of the organization. But in order to be a successful student of the organization we must come to terms with failure, without failure there is no learning and this is especially important in the organizational environment. Logical Systems and Processes Creative Inspiration and Development The Learning and Living IT Organization
  59. 59. 59 Each of the disciplines supports each other by building an interlocking framework that guides the collective learning experience, bound together by systems thinking, which provides the holistic cohesion across all disciplines and allows us to start to navigate the sea of systems. 3.3.1. Team Learning Most important decisions are taken in groups. Teams, not individuals, are the fundamental learning units of our organizations. Unless a team can learn, the organization cannot learn―team learning focuses on the learning ability of the group. Adults learn best from each other, by reflecting on how they are addressing problems, questioning assumptions, and receiving feedback from their team and from their results. With team learning, the learning ability of the group becomes greater than the learning ability of any individual in the group. Knowledge and competence can go the same way as information―they translate to power and position within IT organizations. Many IT organizations have the misconception that learning is something that individual people do and that is how individual people accept training and learning. Learning often remains something that is inside individual minds, which means that every update to that first version that was downloaded to the individual mind―must also be made individually. It is inefficient to manage knowledge and learning this way. For learning and knowledge to be effective and to become an asset to an IT organization they must become part of the IT organization itself. This is what happens when learning and knowledge are 'popped' out of people's minds and become the intellectual property of teams, groups or whole IT organizations. In team learning it is a must for the ability of a group of individuals to lay down their personal assumptions about each other's opinions and engage in real cooperation and dialogue. Team learning provides the backbone for creating the central nervous system throughout our IT organizations. When it comes to quickly upgrading skills, understanding and capabilities across entire IT organizations―Team learning is the fastest and most effective way forward
  60. 60. 60 3.3.2. Shared Visions To create a shared vision, large numbers of people within the IT organization must draft it, empowering them to create a single image of the future. All members of the IT organization must understand, share and contribute to the vision for it to become reality. With a shared vision, people will do things because they want to, not because they have to. I became convinced in the power of shared visions whilst working at IBM Global Services during the mid '90s. It was at the time Lou Gerstner took over as CEO of IBM and transformed the massive organization in a period of two years. I was lucky enough to have been involved in the Customer Relationship Management (CRM) transformation of IBM during that time, which was the spearhead in Gerstner's transformation by refocusing on the Customer. I am absolutely convinced that shared visions played an instrumental role in making that transformation a success. How do you mobilize a sleeping global giant, as was IBM during the early '90s? You need to stir and nurture the shared vision of every employee to make the overall vision become reality. Very powerful visual images of the future were used, for instance: IBMers in client interactions, happy smiling people being successful at engagements. They focused on what People were talking about and what other People were saying about IBM. It was very powerful stuff and it worked. The visions of the future spoke to every IBMer, I did not meet anyone during that time who was not stirred in some way and it was about moments of vitality, everyone wanted to relate to the successful image of the future. If People can work for something that they agree to then they will be working to achieve something that they believe in and this is the true power of shared visions. People want a vision that they can believe in, not some generic corporate slogan 3.3.3. Mental Models Each person has an internal image of the world, with deeply ingrained assumptions. People will act according to the true mental models they
  61. 61. 61 subconsciously hold, not according to the theories that they claim to believe. If team members can constructively challenge each other's ideas and assumptions, they can begin to perceive their mental models, and to change these to create shared mental models for the team. This is important as the individual's mental models will control what they think can or cannot be done. When mental models are elevated to a team or organizational dimension they can seriously impact the way an IT organization performs, they become systemic and affect the whole organization. Mental models tend to be deeply ingrained assumptions that people invent subconsciously; they are gathered and reinforced from the world they live in, and therefore, must be correct. But they only represent one version of the truth, and we all have our own versions. Positively grounded mental models combined with shared visions provide a powerful way to rapidly build and develop an IT organization, especially in terms of its intellectual capabilities, abilities and understanding 3.3.4. Personal Mastery Personal mastery is the process of continually clarifying and deepening an individual's personal vision. This is a matter of personal choice for the person and involves continually assessing the gap between their current and desired proficiencies in an objective manner, and practicing and refining skills until they are internalized. This develops self-esteem and creates the confidence to tackle new challenges, it is an important development factor in IT organizations, especially today when budgets for training and development are scarce. This requires a break-through in traditional and sometimes very ingrained paradigms and views of how the world really is. To be able to admit to oneself what the reality really is and to be able to keep long-term goals and objectives in mind at the same time as balancing everyday tasks and challenges. To become aware that one is improving and seeking to improve and to enjoy the feeling of progress that is achieved. Always attempt to use the mind as a mirror of the current status and reflect on the purpose of everything one does, but before actions are taken that could be detrimental to the desired result.

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