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8 Things We Hate About IT: How to Move Beyond the Frustrations to Form a New Partnership with IT Paperback – March 29, 2010
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About the Author
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
This book is organized by the eight hates” outline above, with a chapter dedicated to each to examine and reconcile the frustrations. We will change the ors” into ands” by answering the following questions:
Chapter 1: How can serve in a controlled manner?
Chapter 2: How can we deliver results while enhancing the relationship?
Chapter 3: How can we identify tactics that are grounded in strategy?
Chapter 4: How can we make sure our expenses are investments?
Chapter 5: How can deliver quickly, with quality?
Chapter 6: How can we have customized standardization?
Chapter 7: How can we innovate in spite of the bureaucracy?
Chapter 8: How can transform from good to great IT?
In reading this book, business leaders may feel like I am letting IT off easy and making the whole IT-business relationship thing their problem to solve. I am. The only person you can change is you and, in the process of changing yourself, IT will be forced to change. Great relationships aren’t 50-50, they are 100-100 with each party doing whatever they can to meet the needs of the other. But rest assured, while I am nagging you, the business leader, I am also implicitly holding IT accountable for being a good partner. In the last chapter, I make the implicit, explicit by summarizing what you should expect from IT, and if you aren’t getting it, outlining how to serve yourself if IT is incapable of doing so.
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The premise of the book is to ensure there are good relationships in building and executing an organizations technology. The book endorses a joint ownership model to make sure there is good accountability on the part of IT and the business. It is essential for business staff to know IT and IT staff to know much about the business. Business leaders that cannot read financials are not as valuable, the same is analogous for technology. Business staff need to have a basic knowledge of how to leverage, justify and exploit technology to innovate or create a competitive advantage.
The point many organizations get stuck in is that the back office items are easy to automate and justify as a priority. At least twice in the book the recommendation is to get the most value out of technology by implementing technology to improve the customer experience by delivering technology to improve the front line staff or enabling the customer. I echo this philosophy to ensure maximum IT value.
I am not sure this would be the only book to give to the business staff, but maybe a heavily highlighted copy or a group read with discussion would maximize the value. The book promotes a relationship model, what better way to build that relationship then by reading and discussing this material in a book group format.
It is common knowledge that IT is intrinsic is all aspects of business, especially going forward in a flat world. This makes it essential to get the value out of every aspect of the business, especially IT. I recommend this book to move an organization closer to the potential ROI. The ultimate goal for all involved is to deliver maximum value to the business and its customers. Nice work, awesome insights Susan!
The truth is that the things Susan Cramm identifies as hated by business people are things that we in IT aren't so crazy about either.
The real value in this book is Susan's plea for the folks on the "business" side of the house to own their IT; to think of it as THEIR tool for getting THEIR work done as opposed to a kind of neutral service that should do their bidding. That kind of attitude change would make a tremendous difference in an organization's ability to leverage its systems for real competitive advantage.
There are practical suggestions here for building the sort of partnership that we need between business and IT. I think that those suggestions are both realistic and attainable, even if they are likely to nudge us all out of our comfort zones. In other words, don't expect just a theoretical discussion of how things oughtta be... there's real guidance for how to get there.
As for readability- I rarely use a highlighter in a book, but a quarter of the way through this one, I made an exception. It's full of interesting factoids and quotable quotes and I wanted to be able to find them again when I needed to steal them.
Finally, for what it's worth, I also enjoyed what struck me as a uniquely female sensibility around some of the thought here. Two quick examples...
In relaying an illustration of one IT manager's plight she describes his much-cultivated business alignment as being "like the alignment of a husband and wife with separate bedrooms and separate vacations."
Later she says that "Dealing with the typical IT department is like trying to date someone difficult. There's the promise of something life-changing, but the day-to-day realities are painful...".
There are about 50 manager-level business leaders in our organization. I'm seriously thinking about getting every one of them a copy of this book, in hopes that they will find themselves captured by the compelling story-telling before they realize that they've had their thinking changed.
The author fails to answer the burning question: why do these techniques not work as well or at all when it comes to IT? Why is IT hated while Manufacturing, QA or the CFO are at least appreciated if not loved?
My humble opinion is that it is due to IT (under the protection of governance, ITIL, CMMi, etc) refusing to "bend a little" when the business imperatives demand it. Which brings us back to Mars-Venus. Men and women can talk, communicate, respect each other's space, be respectful, etc. but at the end of the day, for irresolvable issues, one side will have to give in (i.e. the process does not always yield a product). In the business environment, the same is true for IT: when push comes to shove, IT must bend.