Monthly Archives: September 2014

What I.T organizations can learn from sat navs

We have all done it. Get the post code. Get the address. Punch into the Sat Nav. Off we go . Yet sometimes with ‘devastating’ results.


Now consider an IT organization often characterized by one or more of these behaviours.

  • Heavy lifting ‘building block’ infrastructure projects that span the changes in business direction without ever really noticing that the route the are taking is the wrong one in the eyes of the business. A great example are big software engineering projects that outlive corporate plans, technology waves and investment profiles.
  • Service desk mentality that is steeped in traditional ‘the end user has to ring the service desk and when they do, we are here for them’ mindsets.
  • Enterprise architecture patterns that are encrusted in methodology and framework attributes, that whilst once admirable and relevant, are now relics of a distant age gone by and completely misunderstood by anyone who has to make informed investment decisions.
  • A supply chain that is locked into ‘customer is always right’ terms and conditions that suck the life out of any two way relationship that could develops ideas and inspire new ways of thought leadership.
  • End users that scream out for the tools to be more productive, yet find any attempt to leverage ‘new tech’ to get things done smarter, quicker and better, firmly battered down by corporate IT policy with a version date that is older than their grandchildren.

Otherwise known as a SPEED ONE organization.

You see one of the problems about being a speed one IT organization is all about its chosen ‘direction of travel’. In other words, the decision to input the post code and be done with it. Just like the truck in the picture above. Not only embarrassing but potentially life threatening.

Now consider an organization often characterized by one or more of these behaviors below.

  • Smaller agile business led technology projects that deliver business unit success in sharp turnaround, characterized often by leveraging partners and cloud technologies to deliver IT service faster and smarter.
  • Concierge led service delivery mentality that gives the options to the end user for reporting issues, and resolution ‘best times for me’
  • Business architects that whilst understanding the aspects of being an EA in the 21st century,  but also understand a ‘right to left’ mapping of business imperatives to architecture options that consist of a blend of traditional IT architectures and modern modular service led components
  • A partner model that encourages experimentation, risk and reward and thought leadership access. Often identified by a CIO office and competent Number Twos, a model that allows partners to have a voice and to operate within more flexible frameworks yet protecting both parties from traditional contractual dialog.
  • Connected workers that feel just that. Connected. Working with policies that encourage new ways of working, exploiting buildings and the ‘visible’ side of the Nexus of Forces – Social, cloud, information and mobility – such users ‘want to come to work’. Such users ‘thirst for collaboration’. Such workers ‘share knowledge’ and encourage others to join their working community.

Otherwise known as a SPEED TWO organization.

Of course there is no line down the middle between a Speed One and Speed Two organization. Every day the IT leader switches on the satnav and then switches it off again. Blending the people ( the traffic ahead ) and the circumstances ( the road conditions ) is the true differentiating skill of IT leadership. Such a leader has an attribute too often lacking  in people who ‘choose’ to live by the SatNav.

Flexibility to understand the road ahead.

You see a Speed Two IT leader will realise that a direction of travel at the start of the journey is not a bad thing, and will often lay down via a ‘sat nav’ mechanism the key stages in the journey. They will also realise and recognise in their people, who share the same ‘wariness of the sat nav’, the need to develop agile techniques to reflect and review on the direction of travel, and recognise and act accordingly, when they sense the conditions have changed.

As I close, I reflect that both of these IT organization types have the capability to buy the same metaphorical car ( hardware, software, infrastructure, people ) from the same car manufacturer. Both have sat nav capability ( governance, supply chain, Both drivers are entities capable of making informed decisions ( awareness of warning information, radio alerts, weather conditions, traffic jams ) . yet one cannot resist the urge to stay on the ‘same direction of travel’ come what may, whilst the other has planned for change and has a number of ‘agile’ direction changes that will still see the end journey completed, safely and satisfactorily.

The fun in all this is (1) knowing that you have all the assets on board to allow you to change direction of travel ( water, spade, blanket, food ) (2) have the appropriate support you need to change direction ( toolkit, spare wheel, breakdown support and (3) making sure everyone else on the journey knows you are changing direction ( mobile phone ).


Now shall I switch on the sat nav today, or get the train?


Decisions, decisions, decisions.