A fundamental part of our framework is that it is critical to get, and then always maintain, a clear and common understanding of the Current State as the foundation of running IT, transforming IT and business, and leading through times of big change or crisis. A good Current State:
- Explains the history and the physics of what got US here TOGETHER “one good decision at a time”.
- Unemotionally articulates “what is”, for better or worse, in a way that is supportable.
- Provides some new insights for executives and key leaders about how all aspects of business/IT are connected and impact each other.
- Establishes a common foundation of understanding from which to build a Future Vision, identify the Gap between Current State and Future Vision, and inform a Gap Closing Plan for how to get there.
Across decades of experiences and dozens of transformations in all industries, we’ve always insisted that this Current State foundation should include FACTS and DATA across all aspects of the IT landscape. It’s critical to have detailed data on your business capabilities, applications, data, technology, people, spending, projects, vendors, and assets – and be able to correlate, crosstab, drill-down, and analyze that (usually disparate) data together as one whole interconnected set of insights. We call this correlated data, and the related ability to gain insights through visualization, “The Cube”. This is Business Intelligence for IT – every other function has it and knows the value of data for making smart decisions. IT should be no different.
Most of the uses of this kind of data have been to help drive transformation or simply use a fact-based approach to decision making, solutioning, solving problems, driving efficiencies, and other basic leadership actions. As we all face this COVID-19 crisis, there’s certainly a need for these kinds of facts – and they’re needed now, and they’re needed more than ever.
During the crisis, over the last few weeks and ongoing, Charlie has been writing a blog series on THRIVING IN DYNAMIC TIMES: TURNING HEADWINDS INTO TAILWINDS. And, we’ve been facilitating weekly conference calls with our community of IT and business leaders from many companies to discuss these topics. Time and again, the thought processes, decisions, and actions that leaders must undertake in these times all require facts and a data-driven approach.
In the series, so far, Charlie writes about facts and data as critical for:
- establishing a shared context as you stabilize the organization
- find the truly discretionary work and costs (sometimes up to 20%) hidden in “baseline”
- ruthless prioritization involved in appropriately reshape demand
- intelligently and surgically reshaping the workforce
- finding opportunities to bust the bureaucracy and find and prove operational efficiencies
In the next posts in the series – one on Architectural Reuse & Leverage and another on Portfolio Modernization – Dealing with Complexity & Risk – “the Cube” or BI for IT will become even more necessary.
I’ll invoke Charlie’s mantra of “Go Short”(-Term) and “Go Long”(-Term) again in this context. In the short-term, if you have “The Cube” already, that’s great – use it in all of these contexts to get smarter, be objective, and quickly make the business cases you need to make in order to provide the best leadership possible. If you don’t have the data pulled together and correlated yet, you can and must catch up. Use whatever’s needed – spreadsheets, (virtual!) whiteboards, data extracts from multiple systems, working sessions to get Managers and Architects and Developers in the (virtual!) room together – to get and correlate the basics on applications, people, technology, vendors, projects, and financials. For the long game of transformation that we’ll all ultimately get back to, make sure this data and analytical capability evolves to become robust, detailed, fully correlated, implemented in a tool, and maintained with discipline. It will pay off in all kinds of ways going forward.
To learn and think about this more, please read this excellent LinkedIn article written by Russell Villemez. Russell is an Affiliate of The Feld Group Institute and a Senior Partner at Dialexa. He’s had a passion for this idea of “The Cube” for decades through his own career, before and then with, The Feld Group and The Feld Group Institute. So, it was a natural, back in February when he originally wrote this post, for him to lead the way in elaborating on the topic. Now, we are really fortunate in the timing, as we all emphasize this idea that FACTS MATTER.
Author: Jon Feld, COO, Principal
Connect with Jon Feld on LinkedIn