IT professionals love to change things.  The opportunity to make a difference has attracted many to the profession.  They enjoy the challenge of coming up with a new idea. time for change They enjoy brainstorming and analyzing with an eye toward improvement…incrementally as well as revolutionary.  You can see the twinkle in their eyes and hear the excitement in their voices as their thoughts start to jell into a plausible solution.  They are willing to put in many long, hard hours to help these ideas become a reality.

But while IT professionals are very good at identifying, constructing, and implementing automated solutions to improve processes and procedures, the people side of change seems to often be lacking in many projects and in many organizations.  The people side is hard.  Automating a process, for example, can change a person’s daily routine, his job, his career.  At times it also causes job elimination.  Helping people prepare for, accept, and embrace such changes is not necessarily as much a matter of logic as of listening and caring.

Yes, helping others to change is hard.  But it is even harder when we have to change ourselves.

IT departments have long been known as the “cobbler’s children” who have no shoes because their father is too busy repairing shoes for everyone else.  When there are seemingly unending demands for IT services from other business units, it can admittedly be very difficult to carve out time and money to address internal IT.  As a result, IT departments sometimes neglect training – even if training dollars had been budgeted.  They may hesitate to use staff hours to address internal IT process improvements opting instead not to change anything.  Or perhaps IT process improvements would be addressed by relying totally on the expertise of IT managers.  (After all, they were promoted into that position because they were good technically …and anyway, isn’t the manager’s time ‘free’?).  Sadly this approach fails to engage the staff and gain their buy-in.  It may not provide the optimum solution since it is relying on the manager’s sole expertise instead of gaining the benefit of the staff’s valuable input.  And perhaps even worse, the solution may be ill-fated because the manager no longer knows exactly how the job is being done today.  And let’s face it.  Sometimes we don’t change because we are comfortable with the way things are.  We may be protective of our turf or even of the jobs of those who work for us.

The risks associated with IT failing to change itself – and perhaps even radically transform – are accelerating.  The world around us is changing at a rapid pace.   Technology has changed – and continues to change – our culture and even the basics of business.  Technological disruption threatens a increasing number of industries.  There is a growing call for IT transformation by the press and the pundits.  Forrester, for example, has advocated that we undergo such a radical transformation that we should no longer even have a department called IT but rather BT (business technology).  Gartner has predicted that 90% of the technology spend will be outside IT by 2020.  Your CEO reads the press and is wondering why you still have an internal data center.  Your CMO is complaining that you are not able to move quickly enough to support marketing – and the company.  He is buying SaaS solutions on his corporate credit card without even consulting IT.  And it is not even unusual to read articles about how the CIO needs to evolve or become extinct.

Even within IT there seems to be a rapidly growing realization that IT needs to transform itself.

But what do you think?  Is IT transformation needed – or perhaps just a few tweaks?  And if an overall transformation is called for, where should it start?  And…what are you doing in this regard?

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