|7 Minutes

Why Are You Following Yesterday’s IT Methods?

Why Are You Following Yesterday’s IT Methods?

For years, IT experts and institutions have promoted the likes of Agile, ITSM, DevOps and other popular methods as a way for technology professionals to boost their own careers and to help departments break down complex modern work problems.

And IT leaders have used these methods to communicate value (albeit reactively) to business executives to help explain the work they do between IT and non-IT people.

But for all the certifications and literature out there, we in IT have this inherent need to create silos for the purpose of describing something. Many of the metrics used in IT revolve around compliance to some standard, process maturity or Service Level Agreement (SLA)—none of which pays attention to the experience of the beneficiary, your colleagues, and customers.

service level agreement

Many of the methods IT follows today still have them thinking about management problems in distinct components–like a production line back in the Industrial Revolution.

IT shouldn’t function like some production line from the Industrial Revolution, single-mindedly measuring outputs like # of tickets closed or # of licenses installed while failing to address the rest of the technology and context-based problems that can occur in the era of AI and cloud computing.

Here’s what I mean:

For years, business leaders have tried to adapt IT’s Enterprise Service Management (ESM) practice to other domains within an organization. ESM is a method that teaches ways to automate solutions to tricky problems and improve a company’s performance, efficiency, and service delivery. That philosophy works wonders for traditional IT service, but it doesn’t play so nicely today in knowledge work—where problems are complex and often take significant time and feedback from employees.

Most models like ESM and even ITSM, are based on specific contexts prevailing 30+ years ago, and despite new versions being released, their foundations are fundamentally the same.

Don’t get me wrong:

I’m not saying IT should throw out industry concepts, nor should business leaders refrain from adopting them for non-tech domains, but what we should be weary of is any idea that evolves into something known as common practice. Thinking about these methods outside of their original context can foster groupthink and ultimately, employees will pay the price with an underwhelming digital work experience.

Knowledge has a shelf life and what may have been highly regarded at one point can become detrimental over time or by context. The notion of theory-induced blindness, as pointed out in Daniel Kahneman’s book, Thinking, Fast and Slow is when we trust a theory so deeply that we search for reasoning to reinforce it even when all evidence proves it’s not applicable.

“Once you have accepted a theory and used it as a tool in your thinking, it is extraordinarily difficult to notice its flaws.” Daniel Kahneman – Thinking, Fast and Slow.

Unfortunately, many businesses and IT leaders alike still cling to their old set of beliefs because it feels safe. The truth is that there hasn’t been any real innovation or new ideas in IT management strategy for years, nor much evidence shared among IT leaders to show what has and hasn’t worked in their respective domains.


Comparing IT Methods & the Search for Something Better

After spending a few years promoting and researching popular IT models I discovered two gaps:

  1. Although ITSM, Lean, SixSigma & many other methods serve a clear aim—like shoring up productivity loss or improving internal communications—none serve the interests of the modern CIO or internal IT team. Meaning, most of those strategies were designed for external service providers, and not IT’s in-house context and role within a company.
  2. Popular IT methods tend to focus heavily on reactive services – so what happens once an employee reports a problem?
comparing IT practices

My team and I analyzed several popular IT & business management models in Europe & the UK, and we found that these models represent the lowest workload for internal IT, while the majority of their tasks revolve around knowledge work — of which there is no other real guidance for IT to follow.

Over the years as a consultant, I have worked with global organizations and small family run businesses on transformation projects and the same problem occurs throughout.

IT workers follow their best practices, and the rest of the business grows frustrated by the lack of collaboration and the CIO spends too much time trying to communicate value with little success.

“But, we’re hitting our SLA targets.”

That’s the standard line I heard a lot from IT Leaders.

In many consulting sessions, these executives would point to their perceived successes by citing all sorts of percentages and ticket-based metrics, none of which factored in end-user feedback or their tech issues before users submitted them to the help desk.

Filling the Gap with DCMM

A few years ago, I joined a team of consultants who shared my same desire to right many of the management flaws we observed in IT. We devised a model called Digital Capability Management Model (DCMM), which focuses heavily on practical examples of new work technologies and knowledge work scenarios. In our training sessions, we focus on holistic ideas, like…

  1. Sharing resources– With the DCMM model you no longer think of and promote IT as separate to the organization, instead you envision IT as a technology capability within the organization.
  2. Accepting Uncertainty– information is rarely complete, the cost of finding it can even outweigh the benefits gained from its purpose. DCMM explains Activity Driven Resource Allocation (ADRA) to meter investment for faster paced innovation.
  3. Focusing on continual learning & adaption – Don’t assume process compliance and what happened yesterday will be the same today, keep moving and keep innovating with the business purpose in mind. If what you are doing cannot be directly linked to clear business benefits than STOP.
  4. Self-motivation– don’t wait to be told how to improve or drive improvement from inside IT. Learn how to present constant progress to key stakeholders before they ask you for it and how to use modern tools to understand where to improve, rather than only relying on customer feedback.
  5. Digital Employee Experience Scoring & Indexing – we promote different ways to measure your employees’ work experience and collect quality feedback and input from knowledge workers.

Don’t be afraid to take an employee-first IT approach

Using the right tools in the right context, taking the lead, and not waiting for the business to tell you what to do, will indeed shift IT from a reactive service provider to a proactive business capability. Key tools that can help you take a Digital Employee Experience index measurement can be especially useful to help direct self-improvement and serve users based on what they experience not what you assume they experience.

Data is essential to proactive improvement and adaptation where advanced analytics tools excel in democratizing data insights to correlate across the growing number of data points in today’s organizations, helping you track the shifting landscape and align activity.

Such advanced use of data in a more agile structure will help you create an even deeper understanding into your organization, improving every area proactively.

The new paradigm for IT is here, its proactive and it’s opening the door to an entirely different way of working that will accelerate success for digitally mature organizations.