Thursday, March 11, 2010

Change Management, Versioning good for technical. ………… Good for managing?

In IT we tend to talk about Change Management as some sort of “holy grail”.  If we can just get Change Management implemented on all technical changes the system will run much smoother.

There is also common accepted logic that when you implement a change you should minimize variables or when multiple adjustments are needed you should roll them into one package / release version.  Isolating these changes allows you to see impact form that change in a direct relationship and roll it back if needed.

This all culminates in a methodical, staged approach to ongoing changes.  Thus allowing you to deliberately take moves and actions, see outcomes, advantages, and problems created by those changes.

You are all saying, so ya we have heard this before, it is a main tenant of many IT organizations.

I want to challenge us as IT leaders.   Are we setting a good example? 

The last time you implemented a new way of managing your staff, did you follow Change Management?
Did you have a version rollout, or minimize variables so you could test your before and after state of your change?
Did you document exactly what you were changing? 
Did you gather before and after metrics as to where you were and where you went?
Do you have a schedule for changes in how you manage your staff?
Do you allow for sufficient time between your changes to see impact and relate it to that change?

Being an IT leader should be a process of continual improvement in skills, and I feel we should have a framework around how we as leaders move this forward without causing chaos to our staff.

Please leave me comments.  Am I crazy?  Will this work?  What pitfalls can you see?

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Why a blog? Why Now?

This is the start of something new for me - a blog.

Why a blog?

I have found one of the best ways to have a good relationship with your staff is the theory of no surprises. Part of this is clear goals, expectations, and constant feedback as outlined in the One Minute Manager by Spenser Johnson (the incredibly small, bible I used for my first year as a leader). Another part to that theory I am coming to understand is full transparency in leadership decision making. Making not only information of what you decide available to staff, but a snapshot of how you think.

I take this as a self-realization from reading the blog of our CIO, following him on twitter, yammer, facebook, etc . I sometimes feel like I am cheating when I read his blog. Like I know some small secrets about how his brain works, and the neat part is - I do. I have found great value in this with my ability to predict which direction he might take in the near future and how he will react if I approach him.

By expanding my web presence, I am attempting to scoop out some of my thought process and put it on a plate for world to see. Hoping that, in time, if my team peers or others find this blog and my other forms of communication they will garnish some secrets about how my brain works, enabling us to work together with less surprises.

Why Now?

I have amazing respect for the knowledge of all the IT technical pros out there and had great pride in being a good one. When I went into management I found myself feeling like that hardware tech hauling his first monitor out to the floor to install, excited, happy, and scared, and overwhelmed. That was August 2007.

The first year I was paddling to keep my head above water. I still had more pride in what I had done as an admin then as a manager. I had no idea what I was accomplishing and felt I was at best just ‘ok’ at it. Another year or so passed, and then I found myself at a crossroads presented with an opportunity to attempt a return to my technical life during a recent reorg of our IT department. I struggled. Many a night I went to bed thinking to myself “That’s it! I’m going back to being a tech”.

In the end I did no such thing. I just stayed where I am and realized that I still have way too much to learn about being a great manager. But I have found my pride - harking back to the One Minute Manager to quote “How on earth can I get results if it's not through people?”. My pride is in the success, development growth and accomplishments of my team.

So that is it. I am an IT leader for as long as the cards will let me. I hope this blog will help me continue my efforts to make everyone around me successful. At the end of the day, my job is not to produce but to enable.