They say that “change is hard”. Organizational change is probably the most difficult kind of change. And for some reason, IT struggles with its own organizational change. Sure, IT knows that organizational change may be needed for business colleagues so that they can fully take advantage of a new IT product or service. But when it comes to organizational change within IT- IT often strikes out. Rather than be a model of good organizational change for the rest of the business, IT will often position itself as a support team, or as a service provider, continually at odds with the rest of the organization.
Time is running out on this old, broken model of IT organizations though. The IT organizations who fail to transform themselves beyond a support organization or a service provider will fail to exist. This sounds harsh, but it is the reality. IT organizations must understand why they are broken and they must commit to making the change if they want to continue to exist in this new normal.
Why do IT organizations stay broken?
The short answer is they’re afraid.
Now, I know that answer probably just lost me a few readers right off the bat. But if you’re still with me, a tip of the hat to you. Why is IT afraid to change? I have broken it down into two groups of IT organizations who don’t change. They’re both afraid for different reasons but fear is the leading factor for both.
The first is the IT organization that is afraid of what they don’t know.
Popping open the hood of IT to see what’s actually happening can be enlightening, but also terrifying. Because you might be able to see how hard the motor is working to keep the car running. Or you’ll find that you’re missing parts, parts have been long broken and you’re lucky that the car runs at all.
If the latter happens, the amount of work has just quadrupled to fix what’s missing or broken. Worse than that, the C-suite now has a picture perfect view of how much IT is underperforming.
This kind of discovery is scary to this type of IT organization. At least in their current reality, they understand it and they know how to explain it, defend it, and even work with it. It feels safer to distract themselves with putting out daily fires and accepting that they’re never going to hit their highest performance goals. But hey, at least they’re not making it harder on themselves by spotlighting their gaps and putting more work on their plates.
The second group of IT organizations who won’t change is the group that’s afraid to start. This group often knows they need to make a change, but the fear of starting down the wrong path or starting with the wrong initiative has them paralyzed. .
This group has probably popped open that hood of IT and they see all the broken parts – but every broken part seems to be the most important one to fix. They don’t know how anything under the hood works together so they don’t know where and how to get started.
And the longer they wait to make a change, the harder it is to justify doing that work required for that change. They continue accepting the status quo because they don’t know what else to do.
The fear of finding out what’s wrong, or working on the wrong thing, is very real for many organizations and the truth is, I understand it. Sometimes sitting in the dark is easier because you won’t have to see the monster.
But we can’t live in fear, especially right now in this current climate.
The business world is changing. Actually, the entire world is changing. When everything is uncertain, the most innovative leaders are the ones who know they can capitalize on this opportunity.
But it requires a level of courage, willingness to take on the responsibility, and committing to doing the work and to dig into the data they already have.
The Data is The Road Out
Both of the groups of organizations I described above lack one thing: data.
They don’t have the data to understand where and how they can make improvements. Or they think they don’t have the data.
Whether they’re too afraid to face it or feel too overwhelmed to dig into it, every IT organization has the data they need to make lasting change in their organization. It exists all around them — within their team, their end-users, their partners, their vendors, their processes and services. They just have to tap into it.
This mess of data may seem overwhelming at first but there is a way to take the next step. The hot topic right now is “experimentation.” Difficult times in business require innovation, and innovations require experimentation. But I’m adding an addendum. Instead of just simply experimenting, you should “Experiment from a position of knowledge.” Use your data. What is your data telling you? Where is it leading you?
Instead of allowing this uncertainty to freeze you in fear, try leveraging this uncertainty to propel you into something bigger, better, and different. Everything is already different in 2020 – so why can’t IT be different in a better way?
I predict we will start to hear IT success stories: the ones that innovated instead of standing still (or even worse, receded), the ones that pivoted rather than just turned in circles, the ones that leaned into the uncertainty and transformed into something better. I’m hopeful that the right leaders are in place in many places and they are already beginning to use data to drive change, learning from mistakes, and leveraging the capabilities they already have in place.
Don’t stay “broken”
My challenge to you reading this is: how will you transform your organization? How are you going to push through whatever fears that are holding you back? There might not be an opportunity quite like this one again. Leaders are made for these moments. Are you going to accept being broken? Or are you going to step up and pop open that car hood?Share