Thinking is not our responsibility … or is it?

#DCThinking is not our responsibility … or is it?

We have not seen any significant innovations in existing IT governance models for many years, many people remain locked into old paradigms and can’t see the changes which are silently re-shaping the logic behind IT management and challenging their relevance. Daniel Kahneman (author of the book “Thinking, fast and slow”) described this phenomena as a “theory induced blindness”. We try to explain reality with old paradigms, and this is making us blind to new realities, where a completely new paradigm is required.

I will briefly explain the foundations of existing management models, consequences and draft of a new management patter suitable for the digital era.

A/ ITSM – IT Service Management was developed by the British government in early 90’s when a group of experts coming from large service providers created a collection of well proven practices, which later become the de-facto standard for IT management (best practice) in all kinds of enterprises. The key ideas behind this are from traditional service providers (i.e. airlines) and this formed the fundamentals of ITSM thinking. Every IT organization should act as a service provider, every IT department should have service catalogues, SLA, processes, metrics, reporting, and of course ITSM tools supporting this. The culture of IT acting like a service provider and the business as a customer shaped the way how many CIOs work and act. The business specifies their requirements, which are then resolved by IT. The primary focus of IT is on efficiency and effectiveness and on meeting customer needs, awaiting orders and fulfilling them.

This logic created an entire ecosystem of trainings, certifications, consultancy business, ISO/IEC standards, conferences, user communities. Millions of people shaped their thinking with this logic.

B/ Agile – created by a group of software developers in 2001 and materialized in the widely known Agile manifesto. Agile means speed of software development, where responsiveness and iterative development was the guiding logic how to process a bottom-less stack of ideas, how to make software in a faster and more efficient manner, when customer requirements are properly resolved in newly developed software product.

Fast development is the way, how business can out-perform competition. Time to market, cadence of changes is what matters, constant feedback from the customer is guiding the next steps.

Similar to ITSM, a new ecosystem was created, where agile couches self-organize, create communities, conferences, new trainings, certifications are created.

Digital transformation 

Now let’s look at our reality, almost 20-30 years after ITSM/Agile logic was designed. Its year 2019.

Digital transformation is the hot topic and discussed everywhere. Why is that happening if we are equipped with such proven models like ITSM and Agile?

The reason is not in what both models solve, but problem which none of above models are solving. The problem of “external thinking”

Both models work with “customer” logic and assume that thinking and innovation is the responsibility of the customer. ITSM and Agile are here to materialize ideas of the customers, to make of them either a service or product. Logic which worked for the last 20 years, when visiting conferences and meeting with suppliers was the main sources of ideation and “innovation” was just about improving things. Virtualization, consolidation, CRM, DMS, e-invoice, B2B, email marketing, collaborative platforms – all are projects so easy to replicate, even the customer didn’t need to think much, it was just about doing what others did too, following the norm. The era when the CIO was in a position to fight for bigger investment budgets to make all those great ideas a reality.

The digital era which we have entered is completely different, it’s NOT about replicating others, it’s about finding truly innovative ideas and helping to modernize the entire organization – inside and outside, to create entirely new collaborative networks with partners, external customers, clients, startups, SMBs, education, government agencies, it’s not slow improvement but radical change, a change that ensures continual relevance.

The role of the IT department has to evolve from relying on “external thinking” coming from the customer to the logic of IT as a department bringing the organization new digital capabilities and competitive advantage. IT must change from recipient and solver of customer ideas to someone who is initiating and organizing cross department collaboration, someone who is leading digital transformation. Someone who is not using the word “customer” when working with colleagues and partners on shared objectives, get involved and make a difference.

The digital era is about undertaking risky decisions, when the organization can’t predict and calculate ROI, when we know that there is the unknown, incalculable chance to gain benefits expected.

The future of IT management is based on understanding an ever changing world, about adopting new patterns of acting. Digital transformation starts with new thinking in IT, suitable for a digital, interconnected world, where the ability to collaborate and work with uncertainty is the right approach to survive in unpredictable future.

By Zdenek Kvapil and Jonathan Boyd, authors of DCMM book

Ideas taken from recently published book DCMM: Digital Capabilities Management Model, ISBN: 9781723571923

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