Fresh Links Sundae – May 26, 2013 Edition

http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-photo-calendar-memorial-day-vector-american-flag-image30748660Note: While Memorial Day maybe a United States federal holiday, the remembering of the men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice while serving their countries and communities goes out to all corners of the world.

Fresh Links Sundae encapsulates information I have come across during the past week. They maybe ITSM related or not quite. Often they are from the people whose work resonates with me, and I hope you will find them at least thought-provoking or something of value.

The most critical of IT critical success factors is relationship management. Bob Lewis concludes his list of 18 IT critical success factors by ending where he started. IT’s critical success factors – the series finale (IS Survivor Publishing)

Some have predicted that BYOD and consumerization may render some IT support function unnecessary. Ian Aitchison suggests that is not necessarily the case. BYOD and Consumerization: The Good News for Support (LANDesk Blog)

Some people have been advocating the notion of industrialized IT and the utilization of manufacturing techniques for running IT more effectively. Rob England questions whether the factory-floor techniques can be applied to everything in IT. The applicability of factory-floor techniques to IT (The IT Skeptic)

With IT being an integral part of many organizations, some have advocated the IT-as-a-business school of thought. Derek Lonsdale explains how ITIL can help run IT organizations in a more businesslike manner. What role does ITIL play in ‘Running IT as a business’ (ITSM Portal)

Over the years, the service desk and IT service management function might not look or feel as effective or strategic as they could be for some organizations. Teon Rosandic outlines some suggestions for increasing the value and relevance of the service desk and IT service management function to their stakeholders. Service desk collaboration: why Facebook walls and social streams are not the answer (The ITSM Review)

A number of organization and people factors can influence the effectiveness of a change management plan. Jason Little believes there is no one best approach for managing changes and, success will require different approaches from a variety of methods. Is it Possible to Manage Change? (Jason Little)

While working with his customers on ways to deliver results more predictably, Derek Huether believes that it is essential to stop trying to maximize the people utilization and discusses approaches for achieving more consistent results. Getting Teams to Deliver Predictably (LeadingAgile)

Some people might argue that the pursuit of perfection can be counter-productive at times. Tom Asacker advocates that, when it comes to work and community, we should ignore the merely good and strive for something even better. Is perfection the enemy? (Tom Asacker)

For some ITSM initiatives, many of us set our goal to be nothing by spectacular or “amazing.” It makes those complex initiatives exceedingly difficult to start or to execute. Seth Godin explains what the only path to amazing is. Overcoming the impossibility of amazing (Seth’s Blog)

Peter Drucker once said, “The leader of the future will be a person who knows how to ask.” Marshall Goldsmith outlines the key steps that can help preparing someone to become the leader of the future. Ask, Learn, Follow Up and Grow (Marshall Goldsmith Personal Blog)

Fresh Links Sundae – May 19, 2013 Edition

http://www.dreamstime.com/-image28379626Fresh Links Sundae encapsulates information I have come across during the past week. They maybe ITSM related or not quite. Often they are from the people whose work resonates with me, and I hope you will find them at least thought-provoking or something of value.

Solid leadership has limited effectiveness when supported by less than capable employees. Bob Lewis explains why nothing is more important as attracting, hiring, retaining, and promoting the best talent you can find. Three more IT critical success factors, and they’re all about leadership (IS Survivor Publishing)

Unsuccessfully CMDB initiatives can be not only time-consuming but also costly, in terms of both finance and resource. Jon Hall lays out some fundamentals that should be followed in any CMDB initiative. How to avoid the most common CMDB mistake (Evolving ITSM)

Obtaining compliance for policies, processes and procedures can be difficult given the changes involved. After reading a blog post from Robert England, Dan Kane outlines additional suggestions for coaching people to adopt the changes. Process and Culture Change (Hazy ITSM)

It’s widely recognized that properly executed IT automation can bring many positive results such as cost and efficiency improvements. Terry Walby identified six elements that organizations should consider when trying to derive the greatest value from their automation efforts. Six Steps for Improving Automation ROI (Slashdot)

While technical challenges are often interesting and compelling, people issues must be considered early in a project. Patrick Gray illustrates his point with US Mint’s dollar coin initiative. Dollar coins and enterprise change management (TechRepublic)

Sometimes we spend a considerable amount of effort focusing on the minute details and the tasks at hand. Melanie Karunaratne tells a story of brick-laying and not losing the big picture. The Parable of the Bricklayer (LANDesk Blog)

Wireframe, Mock-Up, and Prototype are some excellent tools that can be used to design and build great IT systems. Laura Brandenburg describes those tools and gives some examples of their uses. What’s the Difference Between a Wireframe, Mock-Up, and Prototype? (Bridging the Gap)

Some project teams struggle to deliver one of those zombie projects where no one understands why the projects are still on-going. Jason Little describes a visualization method for collecting data and reaching the necessary decisions. Perspective Mapping (Lean Change)

Staffing is the most crucial part of a manager’s job. Jeff Haden outlines his suggestions on how to interview and hire the best candidate possible for your team. How to Conduct the Perfect Job Interview (Inc.com)

Too often, we think our lack of success may be related to others who are not leading or supporting us as well as they should be doing. Seth Godin talks about what “Lead up” means and how to do it. Lead up (Seth’s Blog)

What I learned about Managing IT Projects from Playing Online Games

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Time flies when you’re having fun. It seems like just yesterday I grew up playing video games on Atari and Nintendo, and now we have many more gaming choices available to us. To this day, I still enjoy playing video games on computers. Gaming for me is not merely entertainment – I enjoy learning and understanding the design and mechanics behind a particular game. I also enjoy the socializing and friendship-building aspects of the online games.

Many computer games clearly were built to provide entertain value, but there is a surprising amount of wisdom to pick up from some of today’s more sophisticated online games. One aspect of playing those online games involving social activities of organizing a group of players to accomplish a common objective, usually involve slaying a dragon or a boss monster. It is fascinating to me that one often can find some intriguing parallels between organizing a raid and organizing a project team within an organization. Whether it is organizing a 25-player, 6-hour long raid or organizing a 25-member, 6-month long project, some leadership and management principles seem to apply for both cases.

Here are some lessons I believe many younger IT colleagues might be able to learn from spending some time in the virtual world.

What are we trying to accomplish and why?

In the game world, we ask which dragon do we want to slay tonight? Announce the final objective up-front and let people know what is in it for them. Players come to a particular raid for many of their own reasons. Some will come for a specific loot or reward. Some players come to the raid to experience a particular portion of the game content. Some players will come to a raid to learn more leading a particular raid. Some will come just for fun and sight-seeing.

In the real world, people band together to form a project team for a variety of reasons. Those reasons could be driven by organizational, political, or other factors. The why factor always should be aligned to a business goal. Helping others to understand the end state up-front can help to build commitment and to foster positive motivation.

How are we going to accomplish the objective?

In the game world, we need to understand the details of the encounter as much as possible before you can have a successful raid. “Know the fight” is a common phrase used in online gaming. Today’s online game raids can be quite sophisticated and involve many stages or phases. Everyone participating in the raid should have a basic understanding of the raid and what to expect during each phase. However, knowing the fight at a high-level is just half of the battle. Each segment of the raid will have certain activity requirements that need to be met, often under some time constraints. If the requirements are not met in a timely fashion, it is quite possible the raid will fail. To plan ahead, the raid team needs to translate the requirements into workable tasks and assign a time line.

In the real world, it works pretty much the same for a project. The project team should have a common understanding of how the project should be executed at a high, summary level. The project team then breaks down the work into tasks and assigns deadlines or timing dependencies to those tasks.

Whom do we need for this effort?

In the game world, a raid will require a collection of players to fulfill a variety of roles. In online games, the roles can also be referred as jobs or classes. To complete a raid successfully, it will require a proper combination of roles all working together and executing the tasks along the way. In addition to having the proper roles, the raid team will also need skillful players in order to succeed. The skillful players know their jobs/classes well and understand how their roles fit into the raid encounter. The more skillful players can also provide valuable input into the raid and support everyone else to get the job done. Very often, the most time-consuming aspect of organizing the raid is to find and recruit the classes/players you need for the raid.

In the real world, we also need people with the proper skillsets and competency level to execute a project. Staffing a project team with a perfect combination of the skillsets and personalities can be a difficult task. Sometimes, the staff choices are given or established by the organization beforehand or is not entirely negotiable for some reasons. When those things happen, the project team will work with what it has. Sometimes the project team might need to recruit additional people or to replace individuals in order to cover the skill or competency gaps created by the project team make-up.

Which tools will we need to manage the effort?

In the game world, the game client application serves as the foundational tool for all raid team members. Having access to the same information by everyone is critical to the successful execution of any raid. Many raid teams rely on websites or in-game chats to communicate pertinent information about the raid. Very often, critical information also must be delivered quickly. Many raids today are also supplemented by another communication tool, such as voice conferencing. The game world can be unforgiving, and unwanted things can happen extremely quickly. A few poorly-timed missteps by the raid members can easily add up to a deficiency that is too severe for a raid team to overcome, leading to a wipe.

In the real word, consistent execution of a project requires all project team members to have access to the same project information via a set of common tools. Information can be communicated in written form or in verbal form. Project plans, meetings, memos and minutes are just a few tools we often use. The real world can be just as unforgiving as the virtual one. Poor communication can add up to either severely delay a project or sink one.

When Games Mimic Life

Even with the proactive planning in place, many things can still go wrong. Risk management most also be practiced when operating in both worlds. In the game world, risk management takes the form of having a robust combination of roles and solid communication channels. In the real world, we often have a lot more risk management options available to us if we put in the proper level of planning. There is no reason why we cannot do what we can to be properly prepared and well organized for any project.

Whether in the game world or in the real world, producing positive results with a group of people takes leadership, management, collaboration, and communication.

Footnote: Wall Street Journal reported that a new study reveals that adults who played a video game helped their mental agility more than adults who did crossword puzzles. Just saying.

Image Credit: Courtesy and Property of Blizzard Entertainment, Inc.

Fresh Links Sundae – May 12, 2013 Edition

http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-photography-mother-s-day-eps-image589362

Fresh Links Sundae encapsulates information I have come across during the past week. They maybe ITSM related or not quite. Often they are from the people whose work resonates with me, and I hope you will find them at least thought-provoking or something of value.

Note: After a successful planning and go-live of ISACA LA Spring Conference 2013, I am ready to get back into blogging and sharing excellent contents. I cannot say enough fabulous things about the people I have collaborated with during the spring conference. It was truly a labor of love – the love for our ISACA LA Chapter members and supporters. Until next year…

As part of his 18 IT Critical Success Factors analysis, Bob Lewis explains that it’s essential to have a competent service desk and a culture of architecture and why they matter. IT critical success factors #11 and #12: What’s needed for architecture, and why the service desk matters so much. (IS Survivor Publishing)

A recent Forrester report discusses a perceptions gap where IT professionals believe that they do a better job than their business colleagues think they do. Stephen Mann elaborated further on the report findings and suggests why IT needs to measure its success at the point of IT consumption, not at the point of IT creation. People In IT Love Stats But They Probably Won’t Love These (Forrester Blogs)

Based on a recent study of the corporate IT function, it states that business leaders want a 20% increase in employee productivity to meet their goals, but 61% of employees believe that IT does not fully enable them to be productive. Andrew Horne suggests two approaches for solving the problem. IT’s Biggest Blindspot (CEB’s IT Blog)

One of the 12 principles behind the Agile Manifesto is “Build projects around motivated individuals.” Matt Block suggests ways to find motivated individuals and avoid demotivating them once they are on-board of your project. Build Projects around Motivated Individuals (Development Block)

Use case is a common business analysis technique that captures requirements for a software application. Laura Brandenburg gives an introduction on the “Use Case” concept and how it works. What is a Use Case? (Bridging the Gap)

Employees usually don’t leave jobs; they leave bosses who the employees feel are not helpful or supportive. Jeff Haden outlines qualities a terrific boss should practice. 8 Ways to Be a Truly Memorable Boss (Inc.com)

When organizations or individuals achieve success, it can be more difficult to innovate, with a loss of sense of urgency. Seth Godin argues that the loss of urgency can be generally a desire to avoid accountability. Urgency and accountability are two sides of the innovation coin (Seth’s Blog)

When it comes to career or personal growth, great starts are delightful to have but we don’t always have them when we begin the journey. Anna Farmery talks about ways you can still have a different, great outcome, even without a great start. How to Make a Mistake …and Still Win (The Engaging Brand)

Sometimes we cling to a false sense of self-identity and resist changes. Marshall Goldsmith gives an example of such resistance to changes and what we can do to lead to a better outcome. An Excessive Need To Be Me (Marshall Goldsmith Personal Blog)

For some time, many managers have come to believe and adopt empowering management practices that can be counter-productive. Bruce Tulgan discusses some of those practices, why they can be counter-productive, and what a manager can do to empower his or her directs. It’s Okay to Be the Boss: Be a Great One! (JobDig)