As an IT transformation consultant, I’m regularly engaged by clients who have gone through a cycle of disappointment and failure in trying to bring about real change in their organisation. A recent trip to the fairground reminded me of many of the emotions they experience during their change programs.
As a specialist in multi-vendor IT operating models, based upon the principles outlined in the SIAM (Service Integration & Management) framework, these emotions really hit home. I appreciate some of my references are a bit tenuous, but stay with me, there’s a point to all this!
Rifle range disappointment
Have you ever been to a fairground rifle range? You know the ones, where there’s pronouncements of “every one’s a winner” and a whole bunch of massive bears hanging at the back of the stall.
The guy in front just won, to huge shouts and whoops from around the area and he just walked off with a huge bear which he’s given to his child.
You want that feeling don’t you? You want to see the look on your small child’s face as you hand them the huge bear.
So, you step right up and pay your £5 for three shots. This seems like a big cost, but you’re going to win, right!?
As you take aim your confidence grows in line with the expectation of your child as they look on.
- You squeeze the trigger and your first shot heads towards the bullseye but somehow it hits the yellow outer ring. Never mind, two more shots to go. With each attempt, your confidence drains as they too miss the bullseye.
No big prize this time, but there is good news. You’ve won a goldfish in a bag. You hand it to your child and their disappointment is palpable.
Just one more £5 and this time you’ll nail that top prize and the kid gets the bear.
As you squeeze off those next three rounds your heart sinks. The outer rings are all you can hit. No bullseye. No big bear and no recognition as the “best dad in the world”. But you won another fish!
This feeling of expectation, failure and cost is not just restricted to fairground visits.
It’s one I have witnessed regularly when organisations seek to change their IT operating models, in favour of multi-vendor operating models using the Service Integration & Management (SIAM) framework. Don’t misunderstand, I’ve been involved in the development of the SIAM Bodies of Knowledge and I’m a huge advocate of the SIAM principles. The problem isn’t in the content, it’s in the execution.
The root of the problem lies with the construct of the SIAM Operating Model and the commercial agreements which underpin it.
SIAM Operating Model design
It’s relatively simple to create a set of design principles for a Target Operating Model for an IT organisation with multiple suppliers. They tend to include phrases like trust, collaboration, cultural alignment, common working practices and adopt modern commercial framework principles.
However, these design principles are often lost once the new process, governance and tooling designs are complete and we move from SIAM design into operation. This is where the underlying organisational culture interprets these design principles. For all of their good intentions, we fall back into the same old ways of working, where suppliers are hit with a big stick until they miraculously start meeting the unachievable targets agreed during the SIAM design phase.
Back to our analogy, the guy who won the big bear before you, well that’s all the hype around SIAM from organisation’s who claim to have cracked it. Those who’ve somehow managed to find the magic elixir of processes, governance and cultural change to truly bring about a collaborative working environment where service providers and customers work in unison.
The extra £5 you paid for another 3 shots at the target? That’s your organisation constantly reinvesting in new Target Operating Models to somehow help resolve the issue of poor user feedback, low-quality IT services and an IT team that cannot react to the needs of the business.
Your failure at the second attempt? That’s your organisation’s inability to translate a sound set of objectives and design principles into a practical IT Operating Model, underpinned by a contract framework which eschews the traditional set of availability and reliability targets in favour of targets which reward the behaviours we want from our suppliers; collaboration, openness and innovation.
The moral of the story. Make sure the game isn’t rigged before you start playing.
You can put the odds in your favour by:
- Setting targets that drive the behaviours you want from your suppliers
- Ensuring that you bring about true cultural change in your organisation to drive out the undesirable behaviours in your team and the teams of your service providers, in favour of those behaviours which are critical to making SIAM work
- Defining design principles which set the vision for the future, against which decisions taken during the programme can be validated
You might be wondering who was the kid in my analogy above. That’s your customer. Completely baffled about why you didn’t hit that target and why they can’t have the big bear. The good news, is they’ve got 2 new goldfish they didn’t want.