The popularity of the television show The Office and the comic strip Dilbert can be attributed to their spot-on satires of life in corporate America. Let's face it-it's fun to make fun of the absurdities that go into organizational behavior. For a time I used to save memos from the executives that ran various companies I was employed at. Corporate-speak was endlessly amusing, except when it turned into policies that were counterproductive.
Recently I came across a list of "Unfortunate Laws of Human Organizational Behavior " from Harwell Thrasher, author of Boiling the IT Frog: How to Make Your Business Information Technology Wildly Successful Without Having to Learn Anything Technical. Some of you may be familiar with his 10 "tongue slightly in cheek" laws. But for those of you who are not, I offer laws #6 and #7 for further discussion:
The traditional answer to the challenges of configuration management has been the configuration management database (CMDB). CMDB has been a key initiative for the last 10 years. CMDB platforms map applications and infrastructure components and dependencies among them, providing a foundation for various IT management processes for high level impact analysis. CMDB is deployed across various organizations to varying degrees of success.
While CMDB gives an understanding of the big picture, it lacks visibility and control over the complex interdependent mesh of datacenter application and infrastructure components. CMDB is more about the way you record and manage information about your assets, technology and everything that links together to deliver a service.
CMDB can’t be populated manually. Also, you can’t just-by default-take all the data in your environments and record it in the CMDB. It is simply too much data!
Today, the typical IT executive at a Global 2000 company is responsible for managing IT resources for many thousands of user accounts, computers, networks, applications and systems -- that is, the entire supporting infrastructure to run a modern enterprise. With all the complexity inherent in a system with thousands of interconnected nodes, quantifying and maintaining the IT inventory in CMDB feels like a Sisyphean task. Out of this, the CMDB approach often gets neglected, where you feel like by the time you have accumulated the data for the big picture – that data is out of date.
Today’s IT infrastructures, systems and applications—as well as the business operations they support — are more complex than ever. The fallout from this growing complexity can be damaging to an enterprise: more system downtime, higher costs, inferior customer service. The amount of configuration information available in the entire IT environment of the enterprise is staggering. The continued stability of IT infrastructure requires managing the ever growing collection of configuration information and content.
Admitting the importance of effective knowledge management for today’s IT organizations contributed to the addition of Knowledge Management as a new process in ITIL V3. Indeed, many aspects of Knowledge Management were covered by various processes in ITIL V2 - for example, Problem Management was (and in ITIL V3 still is) responsible for managing the Known Error Database. ITIL V3, however, defines Knowledge Management as the one central process responsible for providing knowledge to all other IT Service Management processes.
Have you ever worked long and hard on what you thought was a great idea to a difficult problem only to see it shot down? If you've been around long enough and have been involved in enough change efforts you can probably answer, "Yes" to that question. And if it hasn't happened to you personally, you have certainly seen it happen to others.
Nothing defeats enthusiasm and confidence like experiencing your best idea destroyed. But there are ways to combat this. In a new book, "Buy-In" by leadership and change authority John Kotter, along with Lorne Whitehead, the authors say there are four common strategies deployed for attacking someone else's ideas. They are:
We all know IT is more than a cost center. When IT budgets get cut, it's easy to despair that others in the executive suite don't agree. If that's true, however, the CIO might ask himself, "How effectively am I doing my job?"
There's an interesting article in Silicon.com which draws from a CIO "jury" of a dozen CIOs and IT leaders. The article explores whether mega-IT projects like multi-year customer relationship management (CRM) or enterprise resource management (ERP) deployments have gone the way of the dodo bird or still have a chance of being approved and deployed within cost-conscious and time-sensitive business environments.
The "jury" has ruled that there is still a place for mega-IT projects - by an 8-4 margin -- so long as the efforts are well-managed and deliver repeatable benefits along the way.