The biggest challenges clients face

  1. At least thirty years of ingrained business culture that focusses on process rather than people and doesn’t have the language or concepts to handle relationships.
  2. Senior people who will never get “it” but have the power to stop “it” happening.
  3. People’s fear of disapproval if they say what they think.
  4. Vendors who talk nonsense about unrealistic timescales and benefits and want to lock them into over-engineered solutions that keep IT departments happy but don’t change the world.
  5. IT
  6. IT

5 thoughts on “The biggest challenges clients face

  1. Add "IT" to the list. (No, that's not a wisecrack.)IT folk — especially the "architects" — dislike anything "not invented here" and certainly nothing they can't control.Business folk, in turn, would rather abdicate thinking about the enterprise in favour of being able to blame IT later.And finally (here's why IT needs to be in the list a third time) CIOs, who ought to strategists for the future of the enterprise and the voice of the external stakeholders (customers, suppliers, etc.) in their interactions with the enterprise's processes and systems, have their head up the technology orifice most of the time and very few of them bother to make the "I" in their job title into anything meaningful. Instead, they'd rather encourage process myopia and megaprojects for technology that forces inflexibility (meaning that even if the enterprise did start conversing the participants could do little to make their words meaningful).A dearth of leadership … a history of abdication … a training in doing the wrong thing. No wonder we have such a screwed up business culture, one for which demand continues to diminish. (People would happily pay companies that broke this wide open even if they weren't perfect.)

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  2. I think the people- (or customer-) centricity problem is the one that is setting apart some new companies from existing companies. It also seems to me to be the nub of what's happening in terms of software development these days as well (or some elements of software development, at least)… some recent musings of my own on this here (and if you haven't seen Denning's book "Radical Management" that I mention, it's well worth a look).

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  3. Isn't time that we moved on from the simplistic sniping at IT (or any other specific department or interest group) and started looking at the systemic reasons underlying opposition?Surely two key organisational policies which have a huge impact on the introduction of new ways of working are the capitalisation of IT investments and executive performance management?Wherever performance management incentivises local optima by awarding bonus based solely on individual or team performance (rather than an element based on company performance), there is often a built in disincentive to cross-company collaboration and sharing of ideas outside the formal structure.Capitalisation of IT investments is often necessary because of the huge cost, and for something like infrastructure makes complete sense – almost whatever you do, you will need networks of some kind. However I am increasingly of the opinion that capitalising software systems becomes a barrier to innovation – the company cannot just write off the past investment without a significantly negative impact on the P&L.The challenge of course is to find cheaper software to do what a company does. Most of the “social” technologies do just that, but inevitably there will be a period of parallel running, indeed there will still be some functions that cannot take place within a social tool (social ledgers anyone?). The knack seems to be to simplify as much as possible of how a business works so the next time you have to buy a system to keep track of the accounts, it can be simple and low cost.There are huge vested interests at play here of course, and that in turn may lead to another systemic reason (albeit subconscious) for opposition from IT, based on fear. Not sure I’ve ever heard an expert on change management proclaim that the way to make frightened people change is to tell them they are a problem…Having started with a pushback, I’m going to end by agreeing in part with Bruce Stewart – there is a role here for real leadership from the CIO – but often the people who need to be on board are the CFO and the HR Director too.The real leap IMHO is to combine the willingness to think about how an organisation works and is designed whilst allowing a good part of that design to be emergent – so just HOW do we train our future leaders to think that way?

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  4. I don't disagree with the push back and go out of my way to build bridges but the consistency of client frustration at IT is a real problem and it is not just a result of the influences you describe. Many IT departments have managed to paint themselves into the corner of being gatekeepers rather than enablers. This is in itself bad enough but it is the relish with which they attempt to maintain this untenable position that frustrates.

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