In Pursuit of Operational Excellence

| I recently wrote a blog where I outlined an epiphany I had around the need for an IT team to be operationally excellent  (the original blog can be found here).  In essence the insight was that high performing organisations have high performing IT teams and that a key characteristic of being a high performing IT team is operational excellence.  That is, high performing IT teams spend significantly less than their industry peers on managing business as usual activity. Operational excellence is not something that I find naturally inspiring.  When Read more..

The Case for IT Value: A review of my favorite research

| For all of you who are regular readers of my blogs you will know that I am fairly obsessed with the notion of IT Value. This obsession stems from a belief that IT has huge potential to make our lives and organisations substantially better and that it is our job, as an industry, to ensure that this value is delivered. You probably also know my view that in general we fail to deliver this value. The evidence of this is captured extensively in both IT and business literature.  Here Read more..

We Want to be Digital, But What Does that Mean?

| A few weeks ago I got a call from a client “Owen, we presented our digital strategy to the board yesterday.  It went well but the board wants us to go quicker and are prepared to invest in that.  Can we talk?” “Of course we can talk” I replied, “but before we dive into it, what exactly does the board mean when they say digital?” I have asked this question a lot over the last few years.  I asked this question initially because I didn’t have a clear definition Read more..

High Performance. The Role of Process vs Outcomes

| I was meeting with a client a few months back.  This particular client was having some ongoing issues with the performance of their help desk.  Specifically, tickets were not getting closed in a timely fashion and as a result IT’s customer (i.e. users of IT services) were getting some what exasperated (to be polite).  The question on the table was how do we change this trend and begin to improve service levels?  It was a serious issue for the IT team and it had been a problem for a Read more..

It’s Not Where You Begin

| I don’t know about you, but I have a series of moments which are burnt on my mind and I can recall them easily and always will.  Whether it is the birth of my children, the 1995 World Cup, which I watched with friends in Ngaio, or the turn of the millennium with family at Waikoikoi.  Another of these times for me was September 1998 in Paris. I was there for the Deloitte global new partners conference.  As the name implies it was an annual conference for all the Read more..

A Renovation Approach To Going Digital

| I reckon that for most large incumbent organisations (that is those born in an analogue age) going digital is a bit like embarking on a significant house renovation and extension.  But first let me take you back to the beginning of 2004. My wife and I decided to buy an old villa in Auckland.  We were new to Auckland and needed a place for our family to live in.  We knew where we wanted to live, loved period villas so when this smallish 3 bedroom villa came up we Read more..

Finding Common Ground

| In my job you don’t go to many days without hearing someone talking about the gap between IT and “the business”.  It may be from someone in IT, who is struggling to be heard and understood by their colleagues.   It may be from an executive, who is trying to “go digital” and is finding it difficult to get the support they need from IT.  It may be from a user, who is frustrated at the complexity and limitations of the current systems.  It doesn’t really matter who you are Read more..

Line of Competence

| Technology is changing the way companies do business but the sad reality is that in many organisations the IT team, the supposed technology experts are barely participating in these changes let alone leading them.  On the surface of it this makes no sense at all and many IT professionals are confused if not downright angry about it. They have a good case after all why would you go around the very people that are employed specifically to bring technology expertise to the organisation? The unfortunate answer is because many Read more..

Persistent Problems and Conventional Thinking

I I have been thinking a lot about projects and project management lately.  Why?  Because effective project delivery is critical to delivering value from IT and as an industry we don’t do a great job of delivering our projects.  We are all aware of the statistics.  Most commentators report that 50% of our projects fail and to make matters worse the larger and more critical a project, the more likely failure is.  Until we change these statistics we will continue to struggle to deliver to our organisations and we will Read more..

Failure is Good. Yeah Right!

| It has become very trendy to trumpet the importance of failure.  Many authors, and commentators are encouraging us to fail.  The rationale?  The only way to make progress, to change things, to innovate is to do something, most likely to do something new.  When you try something new there is a chance that it won’t work out the way you expect it too.  That is, you will fail. I get the need for progress.  I get that progress means that you need to try new things.  I get that Read more..

Facilitated Governance

| There we were halfway through the workshop with the IT leadership team and our attention shifted to the team’s project delivery performance.  The insight from the executive was very clear.  They saw the IT team as the department of no!  It didn’t matter how good an idea it was IT would find a way to make sure it didn’t get done.  If through some cosmic miracle anything did get done then it was seen as being too little too late.  Slow in the extreme and often what was done Read more..

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective CIO’s (part 2)

| I have been a fan of Stephen Covey’s 7 habits for a long time now.  It has been very influential in how I look at the world and how I live my life, despite my constant failures to live up to the habits.  It has also been influential in my understanding of what you need to do to be successful in realising the value of technology for organisations that I work with.  You can see the influence of Covey’s work in my ideas.   Despite this influence, I have never Read more..

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective CIOs (part 1)

| I have been a fan of Stephen Covey’s 7 habits for a long time now.  It has been very influential in how I look at the world and how I live my life, despite my constant failures to live up to the habits.  It has also been influential in my understanding of what you need to do to be successful in realising the value of technology for organisations that I work with.  You can see the influence of Covey’s work in my ideas.  For example the concept of competence Read more..

Too Much To Do

| I had arrived early and took up a seat in a quiet corner of the cafe.  I was here for my first coaching session with Roseanne.  Roseanne was identified early as a high potential leader within a major corporate IT team.  Recently, however, her CIO had noticed a disturbing trend in her performance.  Roseanne and her team were missing deadlines and seemed to be working on all the wrong things.  She seemed incapable of prioritising her work and that of her team.  Roseanne had gone from being a potential Read more..

The Technology Puzzle

For more than a decade now the proportion of organisational technology spend being managed outside of the IT team has grown rapidly.  Most industry analysts reckon that the split in IT spending is nearly 50/50 between IT controlled and spent outside of IT.  There are many reasons offered as to why this move has happened, however it is hard to escape the reality that the underlying cause is that IT teams have not been meeting the perceived needs of the organisation.  Why else would “the business” seek to go around Read more..

Driving Digital Competence

My daughter Sarah has just passed her learner’s driving licence.  It is a very exciting time for her and a somewhat nervous time for myself and her mother.  The day after she passed I took her out for her first ever drive.  I decided that having her actually drive on the road with other cars was a step too far for the first time, so I drove us to the North Shore Events Centre.  There were no events on this day so what we had was a large empty parking Read more..

Defining Digital Competence

In a recent blog I raised the issue that most organisations don’t systematically invest in the digital competence of their team.  Having under invested, they then lament their inability to deliver real tangible value from their technology investments.  You can’t be a digital leader, or expect to realise the full value from your digital investments unless your team members, who use and support your digital enablement and data, are digitally competent. On the surface that makes sense, right?  But it begs a question – what does digital competence mean anyway? Read more..

Aspiring IT Leaders

What makes a great CIO? What do CIOs do anyway? These two questions and variations of them seem to get asked regularly at conferences and on social networks such as LinkedIn. The latest round of these questions has inspired me to write this blog.  This is my take on what makes a great CIO. At a high level I believe a CIO needs to be competent in 7 key things: Setting the Foundations for great performance through Personal Leadership.  Current research suggests that great leadership performance is directly proportional to your Read more..

How to Sell to a CIO

Before I took up the role of CIO at The Warehouse I was a partner with Deloitte Consulting. As with most professional services firms my role was a mix of selling and delivering services to clients. Because of this when I joined The Warehouse I was quite open to meet with potential service providers to see what value they could add to us.I was unprepared for the onslaught however. Every week I get many phone calls and emails from companies who have a great product or service to sell. | Read more..

Knowledge is Power! Or is it?

| We hear all the time that knowledge is power. In our industry we use this mantra as a justification for all sorts of investment, particularly investments in business intelligence. But is knowledge really power? Let’s consider this. In our house we have one rule (thanks to my sister, from whom we lifted this rule). That rule is “everyone deserves love and respect no matter how I feel now”. I love this rule because if you use this as your filter for everything that you do it is very difficult Read more..