With guest blogger Mark Smalley
I conducted two pre-conference workshops about ‘Guerrilla IT’ at the itSMF Norway annual event in March 2015. The idea for Guerrilla IT emerged in conversations with itSMF Norway’s Sofi Falberg at a conference in 2014. We spoke about people feeling the need to make relatively low key and informal individual contributions to improving ITSM, possibly under corporate radar. And that’s when I coined the term Guerrilla IT. Then before I knew it, I had committed to delivering a workshop about it in the new Service Bazaar format! In an expanded format, this workshop is programmed as one of the pre-conference workshops for itSMF Australia’s annual conference.
I announced the workshop as follows:
“Do you want to do something really worthwhile in IT yet keep getting ambushed by mealy-mouthed middle managers with their petty policies? In this interactive workshop we’ll explore and discover how to identify realistic initiatives and how to deploy them under corporate radar while keeping out of friendly fire. You’ll leave the session with some ideas for your specific situation as well as an arsenal of weapons for an IT rebel with a cause.”
In the Norwegian workshop we explored the following eight topics:
- The concerns they the participants had at their organisation or in the case of consultants, one of their clients
- The relationships that they thought needed the most improvement
- The kind of behaviour that business people and IT people should exhibit
- The factors that drive behaviour, and therefore need to be changed in order to influence behaviour
- The degree of freedom that their organisation consciously or unconsciously afford them to take behave like an IT guerrillero or guerrillera
- Their person appetite for heroic behaviour
- The kind of guerrilla IT tactics that, given their organisation’s and their own nature, would be effective
- Their ‘rebel’s resolutions’ – the takeaways that they could apply at work
Given the limited nature of a blog, here are the participants’ concerns and their thoughts on the kind of behaviour that would help improve things. This should give you an idea of what your peers think.
- Ill-conceived services being abandoned on the doorstep of the ITSM department
- Lack of IT awareness of the business context and in particular the customers’ interests – in other words no business focus
- The shift from ITSM to Service Management in general
- The difficulties of changing the culture in an organisation, in particular resistance to change
- Lack of basic trust
- The challenges of working in a dysfunctional organisation
- The challenges of working in a disconnected organisation in which IT seems to live in a world of its own
- Change-overload – too much change to deal with
I started off doing the behaviour part of the workshop in 2013 and have compiled and summarised the results of seven workshops, fine-tuning them from time to time as new insights emerge. The findings are categorised in three sections: (1) behaviour that applies to business people and IT people in an enterprise in equal measure; (2) IT-related behaviour that effective business people exhibit; (3) behaviour that you observe in effective IT people.
The enterprise fosters a culture in which business and IT share a joint vision and are part of the same story, have an ongoing dialogue, have mature conversations, strike balances, enjoy working together
- Business people
- Specify outcomes rather than solutions
- Articulate needs and expectations clearly
- Set priorities, take decisions, accept risks
- Understand IT’s capabilities and limitations
- Participate in activities such as testing
- IT people
- Understand business processes and outcomes, and impact of IT
- Talk in business terms about benefits, costs and risks, not systems and features
- Proactively suggest innovations to the business
- React to business change without being surprised that things change
- Replace ‘technical’ SLA’s by simple, honest and meaningful reporting
The burning question, of course, is how you achieve a change in behaviour. This is why I asked the participants to think about which factors drive behaviour. Their main findings were: an understanding the consequences of their actions, a belief that change might be for the better of the enterprise and customers, a common goal (or enemy), likelihood of personal benefit, urgency, a ‘half-full’ attitude, and KPIs that are effective rather than those than invite contra-productive behaviour.
I’m much looking forward to exploring this further in Sydney, and will most certainly publish the findings.
This post was originally on Mark Smalley’s blog.
Mark Smalley is an IT Management Consultant at Smalley.IT and is specialised in application management and business information management. He is affiliated with the non-profit ASL BiSL Foundation, APMG-International, GamingWorks and AllThingsITSM. Mark is an inaugural member of the industry initiatives SM Congress and Taking Service Forward.