IT Agenda for the Workforce of the Future

http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-photography-career-word-scheme-pen-image30486102Jim Taggart has published an updated version of his May 2011 e-book “Workforce of the Future: Building Change Adaptability.” The e-book begins with a brief overview of the global context within which organizations will operate in the years ahead. He also highlights the following trends that will have noticeable impacts. Drawing from his own experience, he has concluded that the workforce of the future will be significantly influenced and shaped by following elements: Competencies, Continuous Learning, Knowledge, Collaboration, Project Work, Diversity, Leadership, Social Media, Work Structure, and Organization Structure.

After reading his article, several thoughts of mine emerged. Here are my takeaways from Jim’s article on how the workforce of the future will impact the field of IT, and vice-versa:

People

From the people perspective, I think the continual effort of aligning and integrating IT with the business is given. More than ever, it is the relationship and trust that will ensure the alignment and integration will happen as intended. Successful IT initiatives require collaboration. Effective collaboration is only possible with trust. Successful IT initiatives also require information sharing from the business. Getting the proper perspectives via business analysis is feasible only when trust and relationships exist between business and IT.

Many business initiatives are also change management efforts. One hang-up often discussed has to do with resistance from the employees. I believe people resist changes not because they don’t understand the changes can be beneficial, but because they feel the changes have more negative impacts on them than anyone else. I think IT has a valuable opportunity here to help employees and organizations overcome resistance by leveraging technology to make changes more productive and beneficial to the employees. Change management efforts also can be looked at as the “programming” exercises of an organization. By understanding how the organization works, IT can serve as the “programming language” which further enhances the organization’s effectiveness in Collaboration, Project Work, Diversity, and Leadership.

Technology

From the technology perspective, IT will need to continue to support a fluid workforce. We, the IT professionals, need to make technologies even easier and productive for the end users to work with, to serve the organization’s business needs while protecting the organization’s best interests. IT can empower end-users to be innovators for the business by opening up new technological doors for them. Jim has mentioned the elements of Competencies, Continuous Learning, Knowledge, Collaboration, and Social Media, and technologies have made large strides in all those areas. In IT, we have been taught to put a great deal of emphasis using the business perspective. While I can certainly understand people’s position when they advocate that IT has to be about the business and not about technology, I am also fully in the camp of “IT is all about the business, by way of technology.”

Process

From the process perspective, I believe that IT must continue to think standardization and integration. By being the steward of the company’s information resources, IT is also uniquely qualified to bring the resources together, to do something with them, and to make the resources even more useful for the entire organization. Standardization and integration are not just for linking systems. They also can help in the business decision-making process. The Master Data Management practice, or single view of customer/product, is just one example of such standardization and integration effort. Furthermore, IT’s ability to foster standardization and integration give companies an even better capability and flexibility to structure the work and the organization to meet the demands from the workplace of the future.

In conclusion, I am in agreement with Jim on his proposed agenda for the workplace of the future. Based on my personal experience working in IT for the last 25 years, it was not difficult for me to draw the similar conclusions. The advancement in technology has accelerated the globalization trend and continued to introduce changes to our workplace non-stop. I think that, more than ever, the workers of today and the future will have to leverage those workplace elements to their own advantage and develop career resilience, rather than expecting the organizations to look after the workers.

Fresh Links Sundae – September 29, 2013 Edition

http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-image-sundae-image13526471Fresh Links Sundae encapsulates information I have come across during the past week. Often they are from the people whose work I admire or resonate with me. More importantly, I picked these articles to help my fellow IT professionals be more successful. I hope you will find these ideas thought-provoking at the minimum. Even better, I hope these ideas will, over time, help my fellow IT pros make better decisions, be awesome, and kick ass!

With the changes in how businesses utilize technologies, IT is being expected to build and deliver complex services, with external services and partners involved. Robert Stroud believes that the new focus of the IT Service Management function should be on design and execution as well as going from reactive to proactive. Service management must be proactive to retain relevance (CA Service Management)

According to Ryan Ogilvie, nothing is more frustrating than publishing metrics only to find that there are some inconsistencies in the data you have reported on. He explains what some potential causes for the reporting discrepancies are and how to improve the metrics. Service Management Reporting Accuracy – Greater Than or Less Than (Service Management Journey)

When IT projects languish, many of them don’t fail outright. Often they get “re-baselined”, and many ended up cancelled at the end. Stephen Lahanas gives his perspectives on why IT projects fail and what we can do to improve our chance of succeeding. Top 5 Reasons IT Projects Fail (Technovation Talks)

According to Patrick Gray, cloud applications could forcibly introduce unplanned and non-integrated tools into the IT application portfolio, just as spreadsheets and databases had done when those technologies first became available to the end users. He discusses what IT leaders can do to have productive conversations with the business on cloud applications. Avoid “Bring Your Own Cloud” syndrome (TechRepublic)

With the promise and the hype of Big Data, a number of organizations believe they have valuable data on hand and just need to find ways to monetize them. Sunand Menon explains what some of the misconceptions about data are and what steps an organization can take in order to understand the value of its data. Stop Assuming Your Data Will Bring You Riches (Harvard Business Review)

One of the most difficult challenges involved in software development is the near-total inability of developers to predict how long a project will take. Dan Milstein talks about how you can both give yours IT customers something they can work with and still manage the risks for the organization. No Deadlines For You! Software Dev Without Estimates, Specs or Other Lies (Hut 8 Labs)

Sprint Review session provides an excellent opportunity for the team to reflect on their work, to discuss lessons learned, and to plan the next steps.  Len Lagestee suggests how to make the session productive for everyone. How to Make Sprint Reviews More Meaningful (Illustrated Agile)

Many of us are delivering more than 100% on the current demands of our job but devoting little time to developing ourselves further for future opportunities. Herminia Ibarra suggests six approaches for developing new skills when you have limited opportunities for exploration and growth. Six Ways to Grow Your Job (Harvard Business Review)

Disappointment is a fact of life, and it can hit you when you are least expecting. While disappointment can be demoralizing, Scott Eblin recommends ways for picking our spirit back up. Disappointment Sucks. So, Now What? (Eblin Group)

People often ask Scott Adams for advice on how to get started writing a book. Scott outlines his recommended steps. How to Write a Book (Scott Adams Blog)

And lastly, for your amusement…

From Stephen Lahanas, You Know You’ve been in IT too Long When… (Technovation Talks)

98天 (Chinese Translation from Manager Tools’ article “98 Days”)

NaNoWriMo-Generic-180x180Note: The following passage is a Chinese translation of the article “98 Days” from Manager Tools’ newsletter. You can find the entire newsletter at this link. The author of the article is Ms. Wendii Lord, and she has been very generous in granting me the permission to translate and to publish the article on my blog. My only intention is to share actionable managerial thinking and tips with a broader, like-minded audience. Please feel free to comment or to suggest ways to improve my translation for future articles. Thank you.

98天

我上週末意識到,100天之後就是新的一年。首先,我想知道我今年是怎麼過的。好
像昨天我們還在擔心電腦的千年蟲。現在已經將是14年之後?

當你讀到這篇文章的時候,也許只有98天剩下。然而,我在想我能如何利用這100天
的時間?

科學家說,人需要21到63天之間去養成一個習慣,但以我的經驗,我們需要更長的
時間。 98天似乎像一個很合理的數字去培養一個新的習慣。我可以用其他的行為去
作為一個開始,像去健身房或做瑜伽。

或者,我可以列出98個我想要在年底前完成的事情。我可以閱讀98本書。我可以編
寫98個播客。(也許我會給我自己在週末放假,然後閱讀或編寫68樣東西)。

你們有些人可能已經聽說過 NaNoWriMo (全國小說寫作月)。這是對作家的一個挑戰,
用11月或31天的時間去嘗試寫作一整部小說。這是需要一種奉獻的精神。有一些學
者還曾經在 NaNoWriMo 月內發表他們的小說,所以這樣的奉獻是值得的。

期限會促使我們一直有不停的進展。最確切的就是像宣布產品發布日期而導致或激
勵我們的方向(這道理誰都知道!)。我們知道同樣的工作量會填滿任何有可用的
時間。當我們縮短可用的時間,我們同時也減少時間上的浪費。與其永遠的遙遙無
期,還不如有一個確實的期限?

98天。你有哪些一直想做的事但一直沒有著手進行?你想培養什麼樣的習慣?你想
完成什麼樣的項目?未來的98天,你會做什麼?請在此與我們分享

Angela Lee Duckworth: The key to success? Grit

I wrote a blog entry about Grit back in July because I believe in the concept and value behind Grit. I am glad someone smart and gritty, like Dr. Angela Lee Duckworth is also exploring the value in Grit.

I am pretty certain that Dr. Duckworth is a lot smarter than I am, since she just became a MacArthur Fellow. Angela also spoke about her work recently at TED Talks Education in 2013. Congratulations to Angela and her work!!!

你的牛排很好嗎? (Chinese Translation from Manager Tools’ article “Was Your Steak Perfect?”)

http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-photography-pepper-steak-image16129627Note: The following passage is a Chinese translation of the article “Was Your Steak Perfect?” from Manager Tools’ newsletter. You can find the entire newsletter at this link. The author of the article is Ms. Wendii Lord. My only intention is to share actionable managerial thinking and tips with a broader, like-minded audience. Please feel free to comment or to suggest ways to improve my translation for future articles. Thank you.

你的牛排很好嗎?

馬克,邁克,和我這星期在奧斯汀一家精緻的牛排餐廳裡吃飯,同時再多做一些視訊的工作。這是一個極佳的餐廳,有非常細心的工作人員,和美味的食物。在用餐中時,服務員問了一句,你的牛排很好嗎?

這毛病是出在這個問題上。因為它只允許一個二元數字化的答案。合適的答案只有“是”或“不是”。除非這牛排是很難吃的,很少有人會說“不是”。唯一剩下的答案就只有“是”的。

剛好那次的牛排是很好的。但我也敢肯定,他們網站上也許會有類似的說法,百分之九十八的客戶說他們的牛排是很好的。當然他們的客戶會這樣做,是因為這類問題導致他們會這樣回答。

也許另一個不同的問法會引起不同的反應。例如說,“你的牛排如何?” 那時有可能會聽到“這牛排很好,但我比較喜歡少一點醬”。那樣的回答可能不會給餐廳一個極好的評級可以放在網站上,但是它會給他們一個反饋。

當詢問的問題是建立在他們想要聽到的答案上,他們無法聽到客戶真實的想法。這家餐廳也有可能會因此歇業。因為客戶會繼續說:“是的,一切很好”,但總是繼續想,“我寧願少一點醬”。當他們找到一個他們喜歡牛排供應方式的地方,而不是這家餐廳決定什麼是完美的,他們會去另一個地方。

當然,這種前車之鑒也適用於各種企業上。任何時候你想從客戶口中聽來一個真正的反應,你需要問一個開放式的問題。凡是可以回答“是”或“不是”是沒什麼幫助的。你不知道你什麼是做對了,或者更糟的是,你什麼是做錯了。如何問問題是很重要的,問題要問的確切。