Sunday, August 9, 2009

Old habits die hard (Part 2 of 11 on Managing Tech 2 Meet Mission)

When I get up in the morning I have a set of "rituals" that should occur in order without interuption if my day is going to go well. My rituals involve coffee, email, facebook, coffee, shower (usually) and a little more coffee. And within each one of those, there is another set of rituals and patterns, like how many times I stir my coffee, order I dry myself off after shower, emails I look forward to everyday, websites I check each morning for fun (like woot), etc.
Now many of you may argue with how, when or why I do these things and you may even be right in your arguements. And I would imagine that all of us have these rituals.
Tea is better!
Here are the statistics saying that more people around the world like Tea and that it has more possible nutrition value. Plus it comes in many unique flavors and has such deep historical roots. So you need to switch to Tea today.
Um, no thanks. I enjoy coffee.
It's HOT!
It is too hot oustside for coffee. Why not enjoy a cold beverage? Maybe a soda? Or maybe put some ice in your coffee.
Um, no thanks. I enjoy coffee.
Anyway, I could really get carried away with my examples here but let me actually try to make sense for a minute and relate this to technology.
Often we come up with so lots of good logic, real facts, deep arguements, relevant reasons and whatever to get people to change their technology use, but it doesnt always work. Why is that? Um, no thanks. I enjoy coffee. (sorry had to say it again). It is because we are dealing with people. And people are complex. Then put those people together working somewhere to fight for a cause or mission they beleive in and it just gets more complex.
It is no longer as simple as, would you like to try tea instead today? You are asking people to change behavior, leave a comfort zone and risk failure, all while doing a job that is part of who they are.

How many psychiatrists does it take to change a light bulb? Answer: just one, but the light bulb has to really want to change.
But that doesnt matter to me, I may never change these habits, rituals or patterns, because I am comfortable. It doesnt matter to me that there is a better razor, newer shampoo, coffee is bad for you, I cant buy everything on woot, there is a more effecient way to use my time, etc. Logic and reasoning are not my only motivators for my behavior, choices and ability to change.
One thing I have learned that works well and is reinforced by Dahna in the book is that you have to manage change on an ongoing basis, not for individual projects. As Dahna calls it, you need to work toward an adaptive organization.
I tend to get irritated when people ask, how can I convince my organization to start using social media or networking? Because often after you ask questions, they dont want to work on real change, they just want the cool tools. There is a lack of regular effort to build toward that adaptive organization. When you start to talk about it they dont want to talk about an integrated communication, fundraising, marketing strategy because their organization just doesnt work that way. Well my push back is then dont start something like social media until that starts to happen or else it wont be as succesful.
Dahna offers some awesome advice in the Managing Technology to Meet Your Mission book to begin to work on a culture change. To begin creating conditions for ongoing change she suggests nonprofit leaders should begin:
  • Challenging assumptions and encouraging questions
  • Encouraging experimentation
  • Resisting complacency
  • Decentralizing decision making
Dahna has obvious expertise and experience with this topic. Her chapter was fabulous.
Wrap it up
Managing change around technology is not a one time goal. It is all about a long term strategy to create an adaptive organization with real relationships across the organization. You can take steps alone, but the journey is easier together.

Over 11 weeks I am doing a themed series of blog posts. Each week I will write about a chapter of the book called Managing Technology to meet your Mission. This week is on the 2nd chapter about Managing Change leader for). Also dont forget that NTEN is also running an AWESOME 2 day online conference! You should totally buy the book and sign up. (In case you are wondering, I am volunteering to do this, I am not getting paid or in any other way reimbursed for this. I just love NTEN and their events.)
Coffee photo from scottfeldstein, light bulb from Crashmaster007 on Flickr

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Aligning Tech with Mission (Part 1 of 11 on Managing Tech 2 Meet Mission)

Meeting the mission is why we are here right? Then why not let everyone within your organization work toward meeting the mission, rather than just making things work?

That may be over simplifying things, but hey I am writing this blog post so if you don’t like it write your own or leave a comment.

Over the next 11 weeks I am doing a themed series of blog posts. Each week I will write about a chapter of the book called Managing Technology to meet your Mission. This week is on the 1st chapter about IT alignment (which I was the ring leader for). But rather than rehash what is in the chapter, I am adding a few things to it that compliment it very well. I want to talk about the role of the CEO and technology strategy. NTEN is also running an AWESOME 2 day online conference!

Lets start with Technology Strategy and how it gets created at a YMCA (you can adapt this to your org if you aren’t a YMCA). But rather than bore you with more words, flip through this presentation.

Key Thought:

Is your IT department there to just fill orders or is it a part of your mission team?

But this is not a new thought, much of my thinking around this topic is summed up in this diagram that dates back to 1993.

Here is the quoted text that explains it (click here for full text):

Venkatraman ea argue in 1993 that the difficulty to realize value from IT investments is firstly due to the lack of alignment between the business and IT strategy of the organizations that are making investments, and secondly due to the lack of a dynamic administrative process to ensure continuous alignment between the business and IT domains.

They describe Four Dominant Alignment Perspectives towards the analytic alignment of Business and IT:

  1. Strategy Execution: this perspective views the business strategy as the driver of both organization design choices and the logic of IS infrastructure (the classic, hierarchical view of strategic management). Top Management is strategy formulator, IS Management is strategy implementer. [Arrow 1]

  2. Technology Potential: this perspective also views the business strategy as the driver, however involves the articulation of an IT strategy to support the chosen business strategy and the corresponding specification of the required IS infrastructure and processes. The top management should provide the technology vision to articulate the logic and choices pertaining to IT strategy that would best support the chosen business strategy, while the role of the IS manager should be that of the technology architect - who efficiently and effectively designs and implements the required IS infrastructure that is consistent with the external component of IT strategy (scope, competences and governance). [Arrow 2]

  3. Competitive Potential: this alignment perspective is concerned with the exploitation of emerging IT capabilities to impact new products and services (i.e., business scope), influence the key attributes of strategy (distinctive competences), as well as develop new forms of relationships (i.e. business governance). Unlike the two previous perspectives that considered business strategy as given (or a constraint for organizational transformation), this perspective allows the modification of business strategy via emerging IT capabilities. The specific role of the top management to make this perspective succeed is that of the business visionary, who articulates how the emerging IT competences and functionality as well as changing governance patterns in the IT marketplace would impact the business strategy. The role of the IS manager, in contrast, is one of the catalyst, who identifies and interprets the trends in the IT environment to assist the business managers to understand the potential opportunities and threats from an IT perspective. [Arrow 3]

  4. Service Level: This alignment perspective focuses on how to build world class IT/IS organization within an organization. In this perspective, the role of business strategy is indirect. This perspective is often viewed as necessary (but not sufficient) to ensure the effective use of IT resources and be responsive to the growing and fast-changing demands of the end-user population. The specific role of the top management to make this perspective succeed is that of the prioritizer, who articulates how best to allocate the scarce resources both within the organization as well as in the IT marketplace (in terms of joint ventures, licensing, minority equity investments, etc.). The role of the IS manager, in contrast, is one of business leadership, with the specific tasks of making the internai business succeed within the operating guidelines from the top management. [Arrow 4]

The idea is to think through where a technology strategy or project starts to how it is implemented. Does it start with a tool, then you look how to leverage it? Does it start with a business or technology need? Or is it tied to the overall strategy? I think each of these has there place, there are times where technology should drive the strategy or where technology should be asked to solve a single problem. BUT that should be balanced by allowing technology to participate in the mission strategy as well.

I blame the CEO. Oops did I say that outloud? If technology is not integrated into your mission and mission team, I blame the CEO. The CEO does not have to be involved in, completely understand or even totally support technology. But the CEO is ultimately responsible for three things: appointing correct IT leadership, giving needed authority to IT staff and providing a reasonable budget. Notice I didn’t say they have to love technology, nor do they need to have cutting edge tools or whatever…

Before I continue my rampage, watch this slideshow about the role of CEO and CIO. This slideshow was the end result of years of work of the IT Director and CEO building a relationship.

I hope the positive approach in that slideshow was better than my short attack paragraph on CEOs, which really wasn’t meant as an attack at all. I have met many CEOs that I like.

The point here is that the IT department can do everything in their power to help meet the mission but until they are aligned within the organization it wont be as effective.

If you enjoyed this, good, because there are 10 more posts coming about the remaining chapters in the book called Managing Technology to meet your Mission. NTEN is also running an AWESOME 2 day online conference! Sign up today.