Bob Lewis on IT Projects, Part 7

In the book, There’s No Such Thing as an IT Project: A Handbook for Intentional Business Change, Bob Lewis and co-author Dave Kaiser analyzed and discussed the new ways of thinking about IT and business management.

These are some of my takeaways from reading the book.

In the “The Seven Change Disciplines” chapter, Bob and Dave discuss the seven disciplines organizations need to master to make the intentional change both real and sustained.

Leadership: Leadership is the art of getting others to follow the leader’s vision.

Business Design: Business design is about creating a concrete answer that can realize the leader’s vision. The design should be complete enough to articulate the vision in the terms where everyone involved can understand both the change itself and their role in it.

Technical Architecture Management: Technical architecture establishes the design and engineering guidelines needed so that the collection of applications, data repositories, and underlying infrastructure assemble logically and efficiently. The goal of technical architecture is to support the organization’s processes and practices.

Application Development / Application Integration and Configuration: The key point to remember is this. When it comes to achieving intentional business changes, the goal of IT is to avoid being the bottleneck.

Organizational Change Management: It would be wrong to assume people naturally resist change – people naturally resist change they expect will be bad for them. As a leader of the organization and to the extent possible, the leader should design every business change, so it leaves employees better off than they were before the change happened.

Implementation Logistics: Start every business change implementation with a well-chosen pilot. The pilot affects relatively few people but otherwise includes most of the complexity of the actual rollout.

Project Management: Projects are how change happens, so a solid project management discipline must be part of any effort that manages an intentional business change.

To make it all work, Bob and Dave believed that mastery in isolation is not enough. The seven disciplines must come together as an integrated whole, whose practitioners actively collaborate to make intentional change happen.

So, what can be done to address “The Seven Change Disciplines” opportunities and challenges? Fortunately, Bob and Dave have some solid suggestions laid out at the end of Chapter Seven. I highly recommend the book.

Bob Lewis on IT Projects, Part 6

In the book, There’s No Such Thing as an IT Project: A Handbook for Intentional Business Change, Bob Lewis and co-author Dave Kaiser analyzed and discussed the new ways of thinking about IT and business management.

These are some of my takeaways from reading the book.

In the “IT in the Lead” chapter, Bob and Dave discuss why it is important for IT to resume its leadership role and how it can contribute.

Before IT can play a strategic, leadership role in the enterprise, it must have earned the confidence from the business units. IT earns the confidence of its business unit partners by consistently delivering its promises.

The SWOT analysis—strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats—is a useful strategic planning framework, but we should be doing it backward. Until the organizational leaders recognize the external threats and opportunities facing the business, they have no context for evaluating the organization’s strengths and weaknesses.

Most external threats and opportunities are the result of innovations in information technology. As a result, IT is the logical home for analyzing those SWOT issues and planning what to do about them.

By playing the customer-supplier relationship, it makes it difficult for IT to be a collaborator in designing and achieving business change. It is time for IT to drive business changes because information technology has become a mandatory element of many digitization and transformation strategies.

Strategic implementation projects should be incorporated into the project master schedule and managed through the business-change governance process. As the CIO, it is critically important to know how to answer the CEO’s questions regarding IT-driven business threats and opportunities.

So, what can be done to address “IT in the Lead” opportunities and challenges? Fortunately, Bob and Dave have some solid suggestions laid out at the end of Chapter Six. I highly recommend the book.

Bob Lewis on IT Projects, Part 5

In the book, There’s No Such Thing as an IT Project: A Handbook for Intentional Business Change, Bob Lewis and co-author Dave Kaiser analyzed and discussed the new ways of thinking about IT and business management.

These are some of my takeaways from reading the book.

In the “Business-Change Governance” chapter, Bob and Dave discuss the importance of establishing a business-change governance practice and process.

To be effective, the change governance body should be composed of people who see themselves as leaders of the whole organization and not just representatives of one of its silos. In other words, the governance body members should see their mission to be promoting the “great good,” rather than simply defending their organization’s territories.

Investments in business change should benefit one of the “four goods.” These are the four business improvements that matter: increased revenue, decreased costs, better risk management, and improvements in accomplishing the organization’s mission.

The business-change governance body should be devoted to helping good ideas succeed. It is still important to screen out ideas that are not worthwhile, but that is a much more secondary goal.

Business-change governance reviews should have only two possible outcomes. Project proposals should be either scheduled or rejected. If a project is not important enough to be placed on the master schedule, it should be considered rejected.

The Do-It-Yourself business-change efforts via information technology (or Shadow IT) used to be preventable but not anymore. With the advent of cloud and SaaS, shadow IT is an indication that the organization needs a business-change governance process. If a shadow IT effort was needed for good business reasons, the governance body should facilitate those efforts. Effective governance can turn shadow IT into “illuminated IT,” thus greatly increasing the organization’s change bandwidth.

So, what can be done to address “Business-Change Governance” opportunities and challenges? Fortunately, Bob and Dave have some solid suggestions laid out at the end of Chapter Five. I highly recommend the book.

Drucker on Being the Change Leader, Part 5

In his book, Management Challenges for the 21st Century, Peter Drucker analyzed and discussed the new paradigms of management.

Although much of the discussion revolves around the perspective of the organization, these are my takeaways on how we can apply his teaching on our journey of being a knowledge worker.

Drucker asserted that “One cannot manage change. One can only be ahead of it.”

While many of us seek the comfort of stability and status quo, the world rarely cares about what we want. In a period of upheavals with rapid change being the norm, the only ones who survive are the Change Leaders.

A change leader sees change as an opportunity. A change leader looks for change, learns how to find the right changes, and work to make them effective both outside and inside of the organization. Change leaders need to be aware of these four elements.

Policies to make the future

Systematic methods to look for and to anticipate change

The right way to introduce change, both within and outside the organization

Policies to balance change and continuity

In the end, Drucker asserted that we face long years of profound changes in demographics, in politics, in society, in philosophy and, above all, in worldview. Changes in belief are difficult to theorize in the period of the change. Only when such a period is over, perhaps decades later, we begin to have theories developed to explain what has happened.

At the same time, it is futile to try to ignore the changes and to pretend that tomorrow will be like yesterday. This is the position that existing institutions tend to adopt in such a period of change. When an organization suffers from such delusion, they become a visible target for a disruptor or challenger to take their place in the market.

The only thing left we can confidently predict is that many of today’s leaders in all areas are unlikely still to be around thirty years and certainly not in their present form. But to try to anticipate what the changes will be is equally difficult. These changes are not predictable.

This leads us to the only change management policy likely to succeed is to try to make the future. Even with the constraints we face in our environment, Drucker believed the future is still malleable. We can still create the future we seek.

This brings us to Drucker’s final point about being the change leader. Trying to make the future can be highly risky. However, it is less risky than simply not doing anything or pretend that the changes will not affect us.

Drucker on Being the Change Leader, Part 4

In his book, Management Challenges for the 21st Century, Peter Drucker analyzed and discussed the new paradigms of management.

Although much of the discussion revolves around the perspective of the organization, these are my takeaways on how we can apply his teaching on our journey of being a knowledge worker.

Drucker asserted that “One cannot manage change. One can only be ahead of it.”

While many of us seek the comfort of stability and status quo, the world rarely cares about what we want. In a period of upheavals with rapid change being the norm, the only ones who survive are the Change Leaders.

A change leader sees change as an opportunity. A change leader looks for change, learns how to find the right changes, and work to make them effective both outside and inside of the organization. Change leaders need to be aware of four elements. The third element is “Policies to balance change and continuity.

Human beings want consistency and continuity. As a result, the traditional institution is designed for continuity. People need to know where they stand. We need to know who we work with and what we can expect. We do not function well if the environment is not predictable or not understandable to us.

At the same time, changes are constantly springing up around us. We also have been experiencing a faster change cycle for everything. The perceived conflicts between continuity and changes explain why institutions and humans face resistance to change.

As change leaders, we need to recognize the forces behind both changes and continuity. Drucker proposed the analogy that change and continuity are poles rather than opposites. The more an institution is organized to be a change leader, the more it will need to establish continuity internally and externally.

When balancing between change continuity, Drucker suggested some approaches for our consideration. One way is to build the changing mindset as the basis of continuing relationships. This is what the Japanese “Keiretsu” has done concerning the relationship between supplier and manufacturer, as well as, between manufacturer and retailer.

Relationships within the enterprise, between employees and the organization, are also increasingly going to be partnerships. For example, people who work for an outsourcing firm are internal members of the enterprise’s own working teams, or with outside, independent contractors. We need to organize these relations as long-term partnerships in the process of change.

To support the facilitating change and maintaining continuity, both inside and outside of the organization, Drucker believed it requires continuous work on information. Nothing disrupts continuity and corrupts relationships more than poor or unreliable information.

At the same time, rich, long-distance information does not replace face-to-face relationships. Moreover, long-distance information makes face-to-face relationships even more critical to foster for building trust. Success in balancing change and continuity means both systematic information and organized face-to-face relationships need to complement each other.

We need to make a habit of asking, at any change, questions even the fundamental one such as “Who needs to be informed of this?” This mentality will become more and more important as people no longer necessarily work physically next to one another. The more enterprises come to rely on people working together but dispersing over many geographical locations — the more important it will become to make sure that the people are fully informed.

Information is particularly important because it must be a firm foundation in any enterprise that wants to be successful as a change leader. There can be no surprises so that people can support the organization’s continuity in the fundamental area such as its mission, its values, its performance, and the desired results. Because change is a constant in the change leader’s enterprise, the foundations of information must be extra strong.

Drucker on Being the Change Leader, Part 3

In his book, Management Challenges for the 21st Century, Peter Drucker analyzed and discussed the new paradigms of management.

Although much of the discussion revolves around the perspective of the organization, these are my takeaways on how we can apply his teaching on our journey of being a knowledge worker.

Drucker asserted that “One cannot manage change. One can only be ahead of it.”

While many of us seek the comfort of stability and status quo, the world rarely cares about what we want. In a period of upheavals with rapid change being the norm, the only ones who survive are the Change Leaders.

A change leader sees change as an opportunity. A change leader looks for change, learns how to find the right changes, and work to make them effective both outside and inside of the organization. Change leaders need to be aware of four elements. The third element is “The right way to introduce change, both within and outside the organization.”

Organizations employ market research and customer studies to limit, if not eliminate, the risks of change. However, it may not be possible to leverage research data when an organization is trying to introduce an innovation that has not been done before.

The effects of innovation can be unpredictable. Very often anything truly new, whether product or service or technology, finds its major market not where the innovator and entrepreneur expected. At the same time, the innovation could be used not for which the innovator or entrepreneur has designed the product, service or technology. In those instances, no market or customer research can help.

Drucker asserted that neither studies, nor research, nor computer modeling is a substitute for the test of reality. The right way for introducing everything improved or new, therefore, is to test on a small scale. Another word, the changes need to be PILOTED.

The right way to do “piloting” is to find a group of “early adopters” within the organization and work with them. Along the way, everything new gets into trouble so that it will need a champion. And this champion needs to be someone whom the organization respects, within or outside.

Drucker suggested that a good way to pilot a new product or new service is often to find a customer who is willing to help. The customer would want the new product or service because it would solve a problem for them. The customer is also willing to work with the producer on making the new product or the new service truly successful.

By correctly piloting a project, we are in a much better position to find the problems and the opportunities that nobody anticipated, in terms of design, the market, and service. Piloting exercises also reduce the risks of introducing the change. After piloting, it is usually easier to come up with the strategy of deployment, such as where to introduce the change and how to introduce it.

Drucker on Being the Change Leader, Part 2

In his book, Management Challenges for the 21st Century, Peter Drucker analyzed and discussed the new paradigms of management.

Although much of the discussion revolves around the perspective of the organization, these are my takeaways on how we can apply his teaching on our journey of being a knowledge worker.

Drucker asserted that “One cannot manage change. One can only be ahead of it.”

While many of us seek the comfort of stability and status quo, the world rarely cares about what we want. In a period of upheavals with rapid change being the norm, the only ones who survive are the Change Leaders.

A change leader sees change as an opportunity. A change leader looks for change, learns how to find the right changes, and work to make them effective both outside and inside of the organization. Change leaders need to be aware of four elements. The second element is “Systematic methods to look for and to anticipate change.”

By practicing systematic innovation, the enterprise adopts a mindset for becoming a change leader. That change leader mindset also makes the entire organization see change as an opportunity.

There are many ways to pursue innovation, and Drucker outlined seven approaches, or “windows of opportunity” as he called them.

  1. The organization’s own unexpected successes and unexpected failures, but also the unexpected successes and unexpected failures of the organization’s competitors.
  2. Incongruities, especially incongruities in the process, whether of production or distribution, or incongruities in customer behavior.
  3. The on-going process needs.
  4. Changes in industry and market structures.
  5. Changes in demographics.
  6. Changes in meaning and perception.
  7. Newly discovered knowledge.

At the same time, Drucker pointed out three traps that change leaders should work hard to avoid.

1. The first trap is an innovation opportunity that is not in tune with the strategic, political and economic realities—of demographics, of the changes in the distribution of income, of global competitiveness, and so on. The “misfit” opportunity often looks very tempting, but it usually requires extraordinarily wasteful amounts of effort, money and time.

2. The second trap is to confuse “novelty” with “innovation.” The test of an innovation is that it creates value. A novelty only creates amusement. The test of innovation ultimately can be defined as “Do customers want it and will they pay for it?”

3. The third trap is to confuse motion with action. We often perform motions, so we can avoid taking difficult or painful actions. Actions are the right things to do, and motions are simply doing something, which often does not address the real problem.

According to Drucker, innovation is not “flash of genius.” It is hard work. And this work should be organized as a systematic effort within the enterprise.

Drucker on Being the Change Leader, Part 1

In his book, Management Challenges for the 21st Century, Peter Drucker analyzed and discussed the new paradigms of management.

Although much of the discussion revolves around the perspective of the organization, these are my takeaways on how we can apply his teaching on our journey of being a knowledge worker.

Drucker asserted that “One cannot manage change. One can only be ahead of it.”

While many of us seek the comfort of stability and status quo, the world rarely cares about what we want. In a period of upheavals with rapid change being the norm, the only ones who survive are the Change Leaders.

A change leader sees change as an opportunity. A change leader looks for change, learns how to find the right changes, and work to make them effective both outside and inside of the organization. Change leaders need to be aware of four elements, with element number one being “Policies to make the future.”

The first policy—and the foundation for all the others—is what Drucker called “Organized Abandonment.” By committing to abandoning and doing so intelligently, our actions can free up resources from being committed to maintaining something that no longer contributes to performance and produces the results we seek.

Abandoning the actions of yesterday, or the sunk costs, is hard to do for organizations and individuals. Instead of thinking we have “low-cost assets” and asking the question of “What have they cost?” we should always be asking the question of “What will they produce?”

As a change leader, we need to scrutinize every one of our actions and results on a regular schedule. We must ask the question and ask seriously.

“If we did not do this already, would we, knowing what we now know, go into it?” If the answer is “no,” our reaction must not be “Let’s make another study.” Our reaction must be “What do we do now?”

In a period of rapid change, the “How?” is likely to become obsolete faster than the “What?” Therefore, we must practice the acts of “To Abandon What” and “To Abandon How” systematically. Otherwise we will always postpone the necessary action because those actions are never comfortable choices.

The next policy for the change leader is “Organized Improvement”  or what the Japanese call “Kaizen,” according to Drucker.

To continually improve what we do, we must be mindful of what constitutes “performance” in a given area. We need to define clearly what “performance” means and how we can measure improvement.

For organizations, continuous improvements in any area eventually transform the operation. They can lead to new processes, product and service innovation, or even new businesses. Eventually continuous improvements lead to fundamental change for both organizations and individuals.

Drucker suggested that the third policy that the change leader needs is the “Exploitation of Success.”

When we examine what we do on an on-going basis, we most likely focus more on problems rather than opportunities. No, we cannot ignore problems, and we need to address serious problems. As change leaders, we must also focus on opportunities.

Drucker believed that successful change leaders must starve problems and feed opportunities. Another word, taking care of problems as we must but making sure we fund the opportunities with resources as a priority.

This feeding-the-opportunities approach implies that the first—and usually the best—opportunity for successful change is to exploit our individual’s successes and to build on them.

As in continuous improvement, exploitation will eventually lead to genuine innovation. By accumulating the small steps of exploitation, we put ourselves in a position to produce a major, fundamental change on what we do. That change can potentially bring us a positive result that is genuinely new and different.