Don’t Align IT to Business Goals

Consider that you do not want to align IT goals to your business goals.

Just as you do not want to improve the effectiveness of communications between silos. Wouldn’t you rather break down the silos and replace those with a single, cohesive unit?

My arm doesn’t align to the trunk of my body; it is a natural and inevitable outgrowth. Similarly, you want IT to grow out of the business, eliminating totally the need for alignment.

Let’s take a look at a performance framework known as GOSPA, an acronym for: Goals, Objectives, Strategy, Plans, and Action.  It is like Hoshin Planning, a straightforward approach for cascading from strategic to tactic.

Simply put: Goals drive Objectives drive Strategy drive Plans drive Action.

There are those who advocate aligning IT to the business goals. If we take this literally, IT and business would have the same objectives, strategies, plans, and activities.  While this might sound correct to some, consider that this is not a desirable outcome.

The Business has its own very specific goals and objectives, inspired by market, regulatory, sense of mission, community, and other factors.  Information is critical to support business processes that support these aspirations.

The business identifies and seeks to act on strategies for its information.  One strategy, a commonplace one, is to leverage Technology in support of information usage.  The other is the strategic decision to invest in and support an internal IT organization, and contract with it to provision products and services to meet very specific Objectives.

This is where Alignment needs to occur, where IT Goals intersect with Business Strategy.

IT Goals, the top of a new GOSPA foodchain, begin with Business Strategy.  Perhaps that goal is to be the premiere provider of solutions, products, and services, to enable the business to meet its strategies, objectives, and goals.  Or to serve as prime contractor on behalf of the business, for 3rd party technology providers,  IT then has its very own objectives, strategies, plans, and actions, to meet their very specific goals.

Semantics?  Perhaps.  But consider that in this model there is no alignment in the way that it is often used in this context, of IT meeting the Business.  There are not 2 distinct entities that need reconciliation and a meeting of the minds.  Instead, consider a single, organic movement, born of the Business, a natural and inevitable outgrowth, like my arm on the trunk of my body.

Intersection of Strategy and Goals

© Michael C. Simonelli, onthegocio.com, 2013

1-Minute Assessment: Organizational Process Focus

Take today’s 1-minute assessment:

  1. Do you regularly appraise your organization’s processes?
  2. Do you identify process improvements?
  3. Do you author and carry out process action plans?

Did you answer NO to any of these questions?  If so, you might be missing an opportunity to bring better practices to bear on your operations.

Regular appraisal will give you a timely and recurring view of your process strengths and weaknesses.  Consider all sorts of process: financial, technological, quality, talent management, marketing, and others.  You can benchmark against your previous performances, and to the industry. Seek to improve in those areas where you do not meet your own expectations.

Name your process goals: reduced cycle times, greater quality, higher productivity, increased market, improved brand, whatever your aspiration.

Process action plans will list the improvement activities, and will help you to communicate strategy and tactic.  Manage these action plans as you would a project or a program.  Be certain to take the necessary steps to motivate people and to gain their agreement, along the journey’s way.

© Michael C. Simonelli, onthegocio.com, 2013

Untapped

Folks might ask: why is the consultant here?  There are people on the inside who can do it just as good, if not better, but for whatever reason, are not being asked to do so, are going untapped.

A consultant might work for us in various roles:

  • Responsible Contributor – extra pairs of hands, more human resource to complement our efforts, responsible for specific deliverables under our management.
  • Responsible Leader – someone to orchestrate, manage, lead; an adult who can manage up and down, and sideways, navigate through an event, a project, a program, or one of the other many flavors of initiative we’ve got going.
  • Expert, Subject Matter Specialist – a domain master, specialist in some aspect of technology or architecture or market or channel or industry

And while the extra hands, personality, and mind, of the 3rd party you’ve brought in, might indeed be an asset, know that there might be some of the Untapped who are potentially seeing it a bit differently.

An extra pair of hands can clutter the workbench and cutting boards of proud craftsmen and master chefs.  An extra personality can upstage both aspiring and accomplished thespians.  And who needs more than our 1 resident guru?

Keep your team tapped.  Manage your talent.  Grow from within by regularly immersing your people in the outside.  Be candid in why you’ve had to bring in a 3rd party.  Be sensitive to the reasons why you’ve had to do so; these are clues to where you might be lacking in your own capabilities to manage, grow, and empower internal talent.

This New Yorker cartoon is paid for and used under Non-Exclusive license agreement with Condé Nast.
Cartoonist: Charles Barsotti, The New Yorker Collection

© Michael C. Simonelli, onthegocio.com, 2013

1-Minute Assessment: Organizational Learning

Take today’s 1-minute assessment:

  1. Do you identify your organization’s strategic learning needs?
  2. Do you tie your learning strategy to resource planning and to talent management?
  3. Do you have a tactical plan for organizational learning?
  4. Do you consider the needs of your 3rd parties in your learning strategy and plans?
  5. Do you indeed deliver the required learning?
  6. Do you assess the learning’s effectiveness?
  7. Do you consider your Learning Organization a chief lever to pull for managing effective change?

Did you answer NO to any of these questions?  If so, you probably should consider if you are succeeding in developing the skills and knowledge of your people, so that they can do their roles effectively and efficiently, in support of the book of work you have signed up for.

© Michael C. Simonelli, onthegocio.com, 2013

100 Tweets: A Report Card

I’ve reached my 100th Tweet on Twitter, a milestone of sorts, a time to reflect.  Here’s some observations and thoughts.

Whom I Follow, Who Follows Me

I am following 185 Twitter users and 55 are following me.  I’m pretty certain that I am at the lower end of Klout’s index,  but I’m feeling real good about where I’m at and whom I associate with on Twitter.

Mine is a robust and manageable portfolio of Tweeters I follow: news distributors, government agencies, companies, municipalities, foundations, community action groups, thought leaders,  provocateurs, Tweeting on the arts, science, entertainment, business, health, finance, education, and more.

These are the back-end of my Twitter existence, suppliers of information that make me smarter, more attuned, and timely.  Their content and insights complement my own, spurs me to evolve and to innovate.  My back-end prepares me for interactions with my front-end.

People are the front-end of my Twitter existence: collaborators, challengers, consumers, conversationalists, and counselors.  I do not consider this group as potential clients.  I consider them a peer network of wholesome, spirited, bright, and principled human beings: the Tweeters who follow me.

We can steer one another to opportunity, together we can create opportunity, but I would not market to these followers, at least not in the model that I’ve described here.  It’s important to differentiate between a peer network and one’s clients.  It appears that many on Twitter do not make this distinction.

Patterns In The Following/Followed Pools

There’s a lot of riffraff up there, and there’s also a staggering amount of potential.  I’ve found it useful to consider some basic patterns of usage and structuring one’s Twitter space to enable effective use of Twitter resources.

Thought Leader Pattern

Seth Godin, an American entrepreneur, author and public speaker, is a Twitter user.  His approach is fascinating, though difficult to duplicate, especially at his scale.  As of this writing, Seth has 255,602 followers, and he follows no one.  Zero.

The Celebrity Pattern is similar.  Jay-Z has 2.5 million Followers; he follows only 11.

Thought Leaders and Celebrities essentially follow no one, publish their own content, and offer their following innovative and thought-provoking experiences  This pattern can scale large and small,  as might be right for the Thought Leader’s, or the Celebrities,  purview and aspiration.

Two separate Twitter accounts would prove helpful

1 to manage a Peer network, as discussed above, and the other to manage a Thought Leader or Celebrity pattern.  This structure separates your front and back ends, your enterprise so to speak, from your prospective clients, your Market.

Reader Pattern

At the other end of the spectrum of Thought Leaders and Celebrities, are Tweeters who follow the Reader Pattern.  Readers follow everybody and everything, and have zero or very little following.  If they Tweet, they do so for a small group, or for their own benefit.  The Ultimate Reader would follow everything.

Follow for a Follow Pattern

I’ve met users who are following X number of users, and have roughly the same number of followers.  Further, it seems that it is the same people comprising both groups.  I call this the Tit For Tat Pattern, or the Follow For Follow pattern.  You follow me, and I’ll follow you, although it’s possible that neither of us really has much to say.

Curator/Distributor Pattern

Curator/Distributors are users with a healthy balance of Following/Followed.  Curator/Distributors realize that they do not have to follow everyone who follows them, and so the Tweeters in their Followed group are largely not the same Tweeters found in their Following group.

Curators follow a lot of sources, filter and combine those for their Readership.

Regarding Scale

How many can a Twitterer actually follow with any effectiveness?  300,000?  15,000?  750?  100?

And why would a user rely on a push model for information and not a pull model, especially at large-scale?

Consider:  there are 6 Billion plus mobile phone subscriptions out there today.  That doesn’t mean that I want them all in my local phone book.  All I really need is the couple of hundred that I might actually call.  I can always reach the rest of the 6 billion if I need to.

Perhaps it’s a “collect 1, collect them all” mentality, rearing its head here in the digital age.

I am cautious of anyone who is following more than 500. I could not manage anything more than that without sacrificing integrity.  Unless I was professionally aspiring to amalgamate and redistribute content, to sitting on my account 24 by 7 doing nothing but consuming content, or having a bot do it for me, there is no reason for following so many.

My strategy is to hone in on a small feed of content,

I will integrate that content with my own, communicate and iterate on that with my peer group.  The rest can listen in.

When Followed, I am diligent in deciding if I should follow in turn

I take the time to understand who that person is following, and who’s following them.  Go one generation out, so to speak.  Be alert for sketchy characters there on the fringes, those that one is better to avoid, and so block those requests.

I ask of my target follows:  Are you follow worthy and why?

I ask of those wanting to follow me:  Do I and the folks already in my immediate network, consider you inclusion worthy?

Improvement Plan

  • Regularly refine the list of Tweeters I follow to assure broad and deep coverage of topics relevant to the Charter articulated in my Twitter profile.
  • Monitor the profiles of Tweeters who follow me, to find those for the inner-more circles, and those who might need cycling out.

Tweet Makeup

I reviewed my 100 Tweets and found they fall pretty much equally into 3 broad categories:

  1. Tweets of original and thought-provoking work, of a small handful of industry leaders in various disciplines.
  2. Tweets where I am serving as a curator of sorts for a broader population of content providers.
  3. Tweets that lead to my more substantive blog posts, or Tweets that attempt to impart words of wisdom, to invigorate, and to stimulate innovation, in 140 characters or less.

Improvement Plan:

Shift greater emphasis to Type 3  Tweets.   Limit the sources for 1 & 2 to recognized pundits in their respective topical areas.

These are my thoughts for now.  I will certainly continue to revisit and confirm these points of view with each Tweet milestone.

This New Yorker cartoon is paid for and used under Non-Exclusive license agreement with Conde Nast.

Cartoonist: Ros Chast, The New Yorker Collection

© Michael C. Simonelli, onthegocio.com, 2013

1-Minute Assessment: Value Management

Take today’s 1-minute assessment:

  1. Organizations typically have a framework for Risk Management.  Do you have one for Value Management, to enable business and IT decisions to maximize the value from IT-enabled business investments?
  2. Is your Value Management integrated with your financial planning?
  3. Do you have a targeted investment mix for your IT Portfolio?
  4. Are you happy with the Value/Return side of your business cases?
  5. Do you plan for people and talent in line with the managed Portfolio?
  6. Do you watch and report on Portfolio performance?
  7. Do you retire programs that crowd out potentially more lucrative investments?

Did you answer NO to any of these questions?  If so, you aren’t realizing ideal value from your IT-enabled business investments, and potentially flying blind with respect to practices to aid the Board and executive management in understanding and carrying out their roles related to such investments.

A framework for Value Management will enable you to:

  • Manage costs, risks, and benefits, in an integrated way
  • Increase the chances for a Portfolio mix having the potential to generate the highest return
  • Reduce the number of losing propositions in the mix, and so cut cost and free-up talent
  • Increase business value and goodwill

ISACA’s ValIT, one such framework for Value Management, provides a foundation for you to manage strategy, architecture, delivery, and value, from a common set of principles and practice.  Are you doing the right things?  Are you doing them the right way?  Are you getting them done well?  Are you seeing the benefits?

© Michael C. Simonelli, onthegocio.com, 2013

The Soundtrack

Wake up, sing in the shower, exit your flat, whistle a tune, commute,  i-Play a favorite ditty, Zumba to beats, 150+ per minute, dine to ballads, promenade to hip-hop, talk over soft jazz, shop to Pop, fall asleep to pink noise.  Music and sound everywhere.

Now consider your workplace and its soundtrack, the themes motivating the dancers on your projects, programs, and change initiatives.  A lonesome horn, over some bass and swirling brushwork?  A blend of finely tuned multi-part harmonies?  12-tone and dissonant or easy to hum?  The usual verse-chorus-verse-chorus-fade, or something more?

Satie’s Trois Gymnopédies.  Miles’s Blue in Green.  SOS Band’s Take Your Time.  Sinatra’s Come Fly With Me.  Segovia’s Bach Prelude.  St. Vincents Party.  Your favorite?

They’re all playing out there, in your head, in the office next-door, on the floor below, down the boulevard, across the country, after the sun, the different tunes, the backbones laid down by the different drummers.

To each their own.  Include your favorites and then play them all.  Not one at a time, but all at once.  You will potentially need to, dear Maestro, to bring order to what would otherwise be cacophony.

© Michael C. Simonelli, onthegocio.com, 2013

1-Minute Assessment: Requirements Management

Take today’s 1-minute assessment:

  1. Do you have templates to formalize the capture of requirements?
  2. Do you have well-known governance around who you authorize to articulate requirements, and who can accept them?
  3. Do your teams attribute requirements to catalog business priorities, plus rank the complexity, time, and cost to deliver?
  4. Does IT, together with the Business, agree to baseline the requirements at some point during the delivery lifecycle?
  5. When requirements change, do you understand the effects of those on design and on the project’s schedule?

Did you answer NO to any of these questions?  If so, you might be seeing inconsistencies in the way IT products and services are reflecting Business needs.  Consider that requirements are upstream from planning and scheduling, analysis and design, coding and testing, learning and roll-out.

Requirements management is a continuous and dynamic process.  Competency here pays off in predictable cadence for all involved, and is a solid foundation for goodness in design and architecture.  Lack of it results in thrash and dissatisfied customers.

Related Reading

Quality Attribute Workshops

1-Minute Assessment: Sizing and Estimating

Agile Architecting

© Michael C. Simonelli, onthegocio.com, 2013

A Synapse Is A Terrible Thing To Waste

You do not typically have the liberty to start with a blank slate, to flash it all away as the Men In Black do, to wait it out and hope for collective memory to fail.  There is no command-shift-delete that allows you to clear the cultural cache.  It endures, persists, and will outlive your brief footprint on its surface.

Learn from the past, the dying memories, the latent, the dormant, that which lurks but which in due time will once again rear its head.  Relive the good times, celebrate the tribal successes of those who came before, pay homage to the spirits that yet float about the halls, get out the old albums and reminisce.  Motivate with tales of olde, good and bad.

Tell each other why this time will differ from the last, and the time before that, or why the good times will continue to roll as they always have, or why the turn in the road ahead will demand a new and improved We.

Break the amber around the professional hearts and minds of those who will follow, who will lead, and who will give counsel, each according to their comfort.  Provide compelling reasons, examples, and demonstrations, of what goodness looks like.  Enlist both, those who’ve succeeded, and those who’ve failed, to tell their stories.  Make each accountable for each, person by person.

This New Yorker cartoon is paid for and used under Non-Exclusive license agreement with Conde Nast.

© Michael C. Simonelli, onthegocio.com, 2013

Tickets Please

Is every employee entitled to a seat on the moving vehicle of an organization undergoing change?  Who goes, who endures, and who thrives?  Ducks, swans, and eagles, quacking, singing, and soaring.  There are some moving on, others rehearsing the next meaningful soliloquy, and those who for the first time will show ’em what they’ve got.

As you contemplate the challenge, do you see yourself still standing when all that’s ahead is behind?  Are you outside looking in, or are you center, in the mix?  Are you motivated and are you able?  Do you still have a chisel to whet?  Dust, talc, or bedrock?

Consider your tolerance for challenge and for change.  How long does it take to get to a new you?

© Michael C. Simonelli, onthegocio.com, 2013