How To Keep Up With Reality In IT Planning

Uli Kalex from Alfabet, whom many of you know, has provided us with a guest post addressing one key fallacy which underlies much of IT’s work with their business. I hope you enjoy it and feel free to comment.

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As a mathematician and product manager, I strongly prefer the reliability of analysis over the uncertainty of gambling. That is why I like to go to Las Vegas . . . at least for the annual Forrester CIO and EA Forums. Thought and industry leaders from around the world get together and discuss the driving forces and challenges in IT management. As such, I experienced this year’s event as a real catalyst for discussions around the increased requirements and frustrations in IT planning — and a call to arms for IT leaders everywhere.

Dwight D. Eisenhower once famously said: “Plans are worthless, but planning is everything.” He was talking about armed conflicts, but the statement holds a lot of truth for today’s businesses as well. In the business world, an unforeseen change can make even the most sophisticated plan obsolete overnight — be it a change in regulation, a budget cut, or a company acquisition. To survive and thrive in this increasingly complex and dynamic environment, businesses need an IT organization that shows a path to meet business objectives while being flexible and responsive enough to adapt as needed. Ultimately, the best route is always changing.

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Groupthink And The Problems Of Silos

I think we would all agree that BPM and business architecture set out to overcome the issues associated with silos. And I think we would also agree that the problems associated with silos derive from functional decomposition.

While strategy development usually takes a broad, organizationwide view, so many change programs still cater to the suboptimization perspectives of individual silos. Usually, these individual change programs consist of projects that deal with the latest problem to rise to the top of the political agenda — effectively applying a band-aid to fix a broken customer-facing process or put out a fire associated with some burning platform.

Silo-based thinking is endemic to Western culture — it’s everywhere. This approach to management is very much a command-and-control mentality injected into our culture by folks like Smith, Taylor, Newton, and Descartes. Let’s face it: The world has moved on, and the network is now far more important than the hierarchy.

But guess what technique about 99.9% of us use to fix the problems associated with functional decomposition? You guessed it:  yet more functional decomposition . I think Einstein had something to say about using the same techniques and expecting different results. This is a serious groupthink problem!

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Enterprise Social, Meet Dynamic Case Management

I must be direct. I never got the hype about social business process management (BPM). Sure, it's great to collaborate better when creating process models. No group could use more help communicating then the process geeks that do this work. And I used to be one. And leveraging social data — voice of the customer — as input into transforming processes. Well, isn't this the whole point of "outside-in" process transformation? So who can argue with that. But here is my twist on this which I am researching now —which means I really don't know anything yet. I think the killer combination is enterprise social platforms and dynamic case management. The former is a much discussed area today, and why not? (Our guy Rob Koplowitz BTW has written some geat stuff in this area.) Enterprise social serves goals like innovation, collaboration, and workforce productivity that few can argue with. Yet real productivity has to connect to core business processes and enterprise social has yet to do that. At the same time, growing interest in dynamic case management, to reform and transform processes, continues, with a growing interest in providing stronger human connection at scale — and this is where the two can help each other. We are seeing a pendulum shift toward people needing a more "localized" and human experience to increase overall happiness (one happiness index for US residents peaked in 1956). Bottom line: we believe companies will be evaluated — brand-wise — on a fourth dimension — a human and "feel-good" dimension — not just on price, intimacy, and service. I want to examine the link between these two growing areas and take a deep look at the trajectory of these emerging areas and review the enterprise social plans of primary case management providers, but more importantly find some companies actually exploiting both.

Are You An Enterprise Architecture Success Story?

Some enterprise architecture programs become a key capability for the success of their business: ensuring aligned plans, shaping business transformations, or boosting the business value of IT. But other EA programs struggle, with nebulous missions, immature practices, and limited impact.

If the first statement describes your EA program, I’d like to invite you to submit your story for the InfoWorld/Forrester Enterprise Architecture Award.InfoWorld/Forrester Enterprise Architecture Award image

This will be the third year of the awards program. Past winners have ranged from global banks to government ministries, from American Express to USAA, and from Singapore to Switzerland. These organizations have become a rich source of best practices and a demonstration of what a high-performance EA program is capable of.

We have a theme for the 2012 awards: EA programs that are business-focused, strategic, and pragmatic — and demonstrate this through their practices and the value they deliver. There are many ways in which EA can show this: partnering with business transformation efforts, developing business-relevant road maps, orchestrating their business’s information assets, increasing business agility — the list is long. As with past years, submissions will be judged by your peers — heads of successful EA programs, including previous winners.

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