In making a bid to become the President of the United States, Barack Obama as well as others, set about composing Policy Papers on almost every topic they could think of in hopes of gaining more votes from their constituents. For those of us who live in the world of Technology, the now President Obama published his own Policy Paper outlining his vision for the future of Technology in the United States.As a Technology Professional I felt the need to dive into President Obama’s Technology Policy White paper and see what I could get out of it all. This review can be viewed at my site surching4me.com. It is quite an interesting read.
As with civilizations evolution can seem like a daunting task to some willing to take on the challenge of growth. This is no different in the enterprise. Any major corporation started from some seedling of a company. As such every aspect of the organization evolved. Whether it be accounting, HR or the manufacturing line, it all grows, changes and adapts to the scale at which the company grows. The same could be said for Technology within that company. The interesting thing is that this growth and evolution occurs without anyone realizing; that is, until it is too late.I recently left a global enterprise organization after 9 years and even in that short span of time, relatively speaking, I witness a substantial amount of growth and towards the end was faced with trying to figure out how we ended up in the technological mess we did. I likened it to the home entertainment system that evolves over time. At first there are a few components and wires. As more is added so to are more wires. One day one of the components breaks and needs to be replaced as you sit bewildered looking at a spaghetti mess of wires that you know deep inside will require a complete tear down and re-wire. Most organizations hit this wall as well. It is however, the fear of tearing everything apart to make it better that proves to be the hurdle that in some cases can be very difficult to comprehend if not take on. It is a technological fear by most to abandon the way “it has always been done” for a new way of looking at things. This is my latest challenge having joined a company that is has reached that point of maturity that demands something be done in order for growth to continue. More importantly it has reached that point where instability begins to creep in and become unmanageable. There are frameworks that abound fully aware of this conundrum and provide a roadmap on how to approach these challenges. The interesting thing is that while the fundamentals are predominantly common sense, the resistance that is put up to the change is incredible. This makes my work so much more interesting. I used to pride myself on being a “Jack-of-all-trades” within the realm of technology. There was one non-techonogical skill however that was not part of the deal. One which I carried with me from my days as a broadcaster. That is the ability to communicate. The thing is, management is always open to advancement and changing an environment for the better. I mean why wouldn’t they, the don’t have to do the bulk of the work but really like to take the majority of the credit when all is said and done. So what I have seen happen is that the ITSM buzzwords have crept into the organization, management has sampled the kool-aid, bought some and begun serving it up to the staff with no clear understanding of what it will take to get the job done. Then I walk into a very open, yet apprehensive crowd introducing them to all sorts of new terminology, concepts, ways of looking at incident management not to mention the connections between Change, Configuration and Capacity Management. But these are all taken with a grain of salt until practical examples are provided to demonstrate the gaps in the existing models. What happens next is pure 100% human nature. Defensiveness. Phrases like “That will never work here”; “We’ll never be able to get that pushed through” begging to rise up against the effort. Good thing for me I am pretty much an evangelist. More importantly I am driven to making this work because I know it can. So for anyone hoping to introduce some form of ITSM into an organization that has been around for a while, take note… be prepared for the negativity. The nay-sayers will be gunning for you. Check your notes, your facts and be prepared to take on any and all challengers. Just make sure you do it in a way that points out the benefit AFTER you show them the errors of their ways.
IT Support is a vital element of any technology organization to get right. The problem is that this role’s true strength is not in core technology elements. The true value and power of an effective IT Support professional is his or her “Soft-Skills”. Communication, organization, stress management all valuable skills that are not thought of as being an essential part of a core technologist. “Can you program in C#, Java, Perl?”, “Can you setup a Raid 1 storage configuration?”, “Can you Debug a Kernel?” these are all questions that most would consider asking a technology candidate. The same questions that are posed to the individual who is expected to deal with business users and manage technology as a business partner.Of all of the possible “Soft-Skills” needed by the IT Support professional, the most critical is the ability to communicate. Not by simply speaking to people but the art of understanding people and empathizing with people. The ability to act as translator of techno speak to a business user also helps at keeping the noise down when things don’t go as designed. The key thing for management to always remember is that this individual does not fully operate in the business environment, but is very aware of the business goal and strategy. Nor is the role as deeply focused on core infrastructure or development areas, but again, in varying levels, is familiar with the technology employed. This is the hidden value add to both the business as well as technology. The role of IT Service Professional should never be seen as a generic, non-critical function which adds limited value to an organization. It is the role that is both the “face of technology” to the business, while being the “voice of the business” to IT. Image by $ydney
There are few things in life that I really, really look forward to. Coldstone Creamery’s Peanut Butter Perfection is one of them. For anyone who has a C.S. within driving distance, head there now and if you love peanut butter, then my choice comes HIGHLY recommended.
Working in the field of IT Service Management there are numerous training courses, seminars, webinars and other methods of trying to describe the concept of ITSM. One of the most interesting ways to try and convey the broad goal of ITSM is through the use of simulations.In the fall of 2006 I had the opportunity to attend the ITSMF conference in Charlotte, NC. During this conference I had the opportunity to meet the sales team from a company called G2G3. Their goal is to develop simulation training tools designed to demonstrate the complexity of operating an efficient technology organization. More importantly, through the use of ITIL based best practice, they apply the various ITIL roles and functions in a non-IT capacity. I had the opportunity this past week, to be the intro speaker for a training course that utilized the G2G3 simulation product using the theme of managing an F-1 Racing Team. I had never personally attended one of these coursed before and upon watching this one in action realized the true value in this type of training. Watching how Incident, Problem, Change and Configuration Management practices were applied to managing an F-1 team was quite fascinating. What was even more impressive was watching the various groups in the class work in independent functions and roles while the light-bulbs flickered on as the connection with our own IT functions began to become apparent. If you have the opportunity to attend simulation based training and the G2G3 folks are involved, I highly recommend it, you not only begin to see the big picture, but you can have quite a bit of fun in the process. That is, until the facilitator hits the “EVENT” key on his laptop which triggers the next incident.