9 September 2012

Strategy or routine operations - Binary Thinking Hex No. 8

Why has IT management become so cursed with Binary Thinking?

No. 8: The CIO needs to focus on strategy and ignore routine operations


Binary Thinking: CIOs should not waste their time on the trivial matter of keeping the IT machine running. These days the issues in running IT are well understood and should be left to subordinates. If necessary a CIO can appoint a CTO to look after technology. Instead the CIO should be a business strategist and spend most of their time sitting with the CEO and the board and:
  • talk about social media and new consumer devices,
  • agree the budget for replacing all existing IT equipment with public cloud services and
  • consider what questions could be answered through Big Data once the management hierarchy has been made obsolete by collaboration and gamification.

Portfolio Insight: Conceptually, execution without strategy is inefficient in the long term and strategy without execution is irrelevant. In theory these disciplines can be carried out in isolation but the strongest results come from linking both together. In practice, if there is an IT related crisis or IT services are out of control then operational matters will dominate the CIO's time. The CIO's executive peers will ensure that this is the case. Through developing a great team and delivering high quality services a CIO creates the time and earns the right to engage in higher level activities.

Binary Thinking Hex No. 7

Related Blog Post: Future of the CIO

Related Blog Post: Peter Kretzman on CTO vs CIO

Related Blog Post: Brenda Michelson on avoiding the PowerPoint-to-Execution Gap: Strategists as Operators

5 September 2012

Agile or waterfall - Binary Thinking Hex No. 7

Why has IT management become so cursed with Binary Thinking?

No. 7: Changes and projects can be delivered in an agile or waterfall way


Binary Thinking: Traditionally people commissioning a change have carefully specified their requirements and then left a project team alone for months, or maybe years, to develop and deliver a capability to fulfil the requirements. This disciplined, structured approach has been largely discredited in the IT domain as the cause of many high-profile project failures. Alternatively changes can be made in an agile way which means delivering basic capabilities in days or weeks and working closely with commissioners to add further capabilities iteratively over time. These days everything should be done using an agile approach.

Portfolio Insight: When undertaking DIY at home is it wise to use the right tools and be skilled in their use. The same thing applies to change and projects in businesses. Agile is not a panacea and if the right conditions are not in place it may not work well. Anyone who has struggled with stakeholders who insist that every last one of their requirements are critical will recognise this. So will anyone who has experienced a major phase of rework half-way through a series of iterations. There are plenty of skilled practitioners who break their waterfall projects into manageable stages and keep buyers and users closely engaged. In many cases experts will mix and match, employing waterfall techniques in some iterations to build a robust platform for later work or using rapid, iterative development to help unblock issues during requirements or design phases.

Special Bi-Modal Hex: At least two high profile analyst firms have proposed bi-modal or two-speed IT. I fear that this removes the "Thinking" from "Binary Thinking" and probably shouldn't be treated as progress.

Two-Speed IT update: It seems one of the high profile analyst firms has back tracked on their proposal. Let's hope the other one sees the light soon.

Binary Thinking Hex No. 6

Binary Thinking Hex No. 8

Related Blog Posts
Agile often isn't
5 Things that will make your Agile dev project fail
The world’s biggest agile software project disaster
Oh not again by @swardley
Why agile software architecture will never be agile
Bimodal IT - the new old hotness

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