Trying is Everything

How are we going to solve this problem?

It’s impossible to know all the possible solutions to a given problem, and the more complex the problem, the more possible solutions there may be.

Nothing inspires me to grab my toolbox more than problems that need solving. How do you add solutions to your toolbox? How do you hone your skills in applying those tools?

This is why trying is everything.tools

Without the upfront work of experience and trying things, you may not know which tool is sharpest, or the best fit for problem.  In tech work this means trying lots of things, platforms, technologies and approaches to applying those technologies. It means talking to people who have tried lots of things and connecting to people who carry a bigger toolbox or sharpened tools.

Get involved in communities, join meetups focused on solutions and try everything!

Ready to try something new? Join our hackathon: http://developer.kineticdata.com/hackathon

How Come Our Culture Isn’t Better?

Week 3 in a three-part series about differentiation.
Hiring the right people. Have you seen this done well? If we accept that failure is inevitable, meaning you How Culturecan’t hire perfectly well %100 of the time, then how do you make sure you’re getting the right people to fill your needs?
That’s easy!
Are you accomplishing your goals? Are you exceeding them? These two questions capture the urgency and essence of how truly great companies look for ideas.
This desire for new ideas, a thirsty exploration and acceptance of ideas is something I’ve seen firsthand at only a couple organizations. If you find it, take note, for you are in the presence of something very great. A culture that begs for change is not something you can create overnight, and something that I suspect doesn’t scale.
In both cases, the culture of the organization was the first goal right at the beginning. If you have competing goals, and a different primary goal you will be quickly distracted with profit, product or performance and one of the millions of details of running a successful organization.

How Come There Are No New Ideas?

Week 2 in a three-part series about differentiation.
We don’t have time to innovate.Ideas and Listening
Everything’s already been tried.
We just aren’t a very innovative company.
Heard them all? Your team has. And the person who doesn’t hear, doesn’t recognize and doesn’t believe them is the employee that’s sure to be innovating. New ideas are everywhere. However, in some cultures, ideas must go into hiding for self preservation. Idea abuse is a real problem and can be recognized by the symptoms including cricket sounds when conference calls open up for questions, people hide their best ideas and people are used to hearing “no”.
Why is this?
What suggestion did your mail room employee just mention to his co-worker on the dock while taking in the daily barrage of Amazon boxes? What if their supervisor doesn’t listen? What if they do, but then their manager doesn’t? How can co-workers cut through the beauracracy quickly and prove ROI without being enabled?
The answer is that they can’t. Or if they can, they won’t.
Here’s the story.
An inspired and new employee has been mentioning new ideas to her boss for 3 years, one day a consultant came in and sold an idea to management. After a lengthy and expensive project, which failed, your new employee is livid. She even takes the time to analyze and report why the idea wouldn’t have provided value even if the project were successful. Yet her ideas go unnoticed, unrecognized by management and never realized by her coworkers.
This employee might muster up the courage to quit, or even look for a new position where their voice will be heard and valued. But maybe they won’t. Maybe they are the primary earner in their household and they can’t take a risk on a new job. In both of these cases this woman will keep quiet and do the minimum possible to complete her “duties as described”.
How can you break this cycle?
Some say new leaders are needed, some people think a feedback process might work. I usually go for something a bit more direct and impactful; transparency.
Your employees need love and care. People want to be heard, valued and rewarded. They want to be part of a team. Not just watching from the sidelines. So cut to the core, build systems of engagement that scale and stop silencing voices with process, approvals and hierarchy.
Next week: Culture as a measure for your ability to differentiate.

Three Key Takeaways from the 2016 State of IT Report

As 2015 winds down, IT leaders and their teams are looking at internal needs and external conditions in formulating plans and setting budget priorities for the coming year.

The recently released 2016 State of IT Report from Spiceworks provides a wealth of information about how IT teams are formulating plans for the year ahead.

The report covers IT budgets, spending and staffing plans; the trends and concerns keeping IT pros up at night; and a look forward at technology adoption trends.

Among the abundance of facts and stats presented, here are three noteworthy findings, along with additional observations.

IT pros will “need to keep doing more… with less.” (Here’s one strategy to help.)

One of the key top-level conclusions reported by Spiceworks is: “IT pros don’t expect their IT staff to increase in 2016, which means they’ll need to keep doing more… with less.”

How IT can do more with less

At the same time, more than half of IT organizations say “end-user need” is a key purchase driver.

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Where Data Security Fits in Two-Speed IT

“Where does security fit in bi-modal IT departments?” asks Mary K. Pratt on CSO Online. She explores the question with IT leaders from a handful of organizations, opening her discussion by noting:

“The bi-modal idea has its benefits and its pitfalls but the determination seems to come down to the size of the enterprise. In the mid to smaller companies, there is not the luxury of splitting the security group out into subgroups. In the bigger companies the question becomes where do the security folks belong.”

Though the CIOs she speaks to take different approaches to managing bi-modal or two-speed IT, they generally agree on two points:

where security fits in 2-speed IT1) It’s best to perform both speeds or modes of IT–innovation and operations–in one centralized group, rather than two separate teams where the innovators “throw things over the wall” to operations as applications are developed.

In this structure, the same individuals work on both innovation initiatives and day-to-day operations tasks, though overall a greater share of time is spent on operations, and employees vary in how much time they spend on each type of work.

2) Security has become so important, as cyber threats have multiplied, that it must be baked into new projects, not added later as an afterthought. Ultimately though, security “should sit in operations.”

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How Service Catalogs Help Enterprise IT Innovation

Over the past few decades, organizations have applied technology primarily to reduce costs. Faster computers, instantaneous global communications, and specialized software for every business function have dramatically improved productivity and driven costs out of the value chain.

But the days of cost reduction as the primary focus of IT may have ended. As noted here a year ago, “improving the effectiveness of business processes” has replaced reducing costs as the top concern of IT leaders.

BPI IT innovation report - accelerating business transformationNow, fresh research from the Business Performance Innovation (BPI) Network reinforces and builds on this trend. Across enterprises, business leaders are looking to IT and new technologies to help “increase agility, improve customer experience, and make their companies more competitive.”

As the mission of IT is transformed from driving out costs to driving business model innovation, IT’s profile is raised as well. Per the BPI research, almost two-thirds (65%) of enterprises “say technology has become ‘far more important’ to their organizations in the past five years. Another 28% see it as ‘somewhat’ more important.”
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The CIO’s Role in Stellar Customer Experience – Hunter Muller

The role of the CIO has shifted dramatically in the past few years, from the traditional focus on “keeping the lights on” to playing a more strategic part in aligning IT with the business, as well as embracing trends like the consumerization of IT.

Yet in his new book The Big Shift in IT Leadership, author Hunter Muller “contends that many CIOs remain focused inward, only concerned with technology,” according to Anita Bruzzese on The Fast Track blog.

The Big Shift in IT Leadership: How Great CIOs Leverage the Power of Technology for Strategic Business Growth in the Customer-Centric EconomyAs Bruzzese writes, “The best CIOs, (Muller) says, know that results beat out technology. Having great technology doesn’t mean much if customers aren’t having a good user experience.”

Muller believes CIOs should not only contribute their expertise to efforts aimed at providing a great customer experience (for both internal and external “customers”), but to take a leadership role in this area.

He views IT leaders as uniquely positioned for this task, because CIOs “have total visibility across the organization,” and with that access, “have a golden opportunity to help develop innovative strategies and spur collaborations that will have a big impact on the organization’s overall success.”

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