Why do you expect change to be fast?

Yacht moving in full speed

The changes your IT department implements can be hard at a personal level and at an organizational level. The speed of the change plays an important role in how the change is accepted. But it isn’t the specific speed of the change that matters, it is the speed of the change compared to what people expect.

As I talked about in my post, Square Root Of Change, there is a dip in productivity (however you measure it) when a change happens. It takes time for productivity to get back to the level it was, or hopefully higher.

Here I want to talk about the time leading up to the change. The time between people first hearing of the change and when the change affects their day-to-day activities.

There is a simple heuristic that I believe drives most of our opinions of the speed of change: If we want the change, it is too slow. If we don’t want the change, it is too fast. Business management is littered with failed changes, many because they happened too fast. Social commentary is filled with complaints about change being either too fast or too slow.

There is also the scope/scale factor. The bigger the thing being changed, the longer it will take. Changing a personal habit can be faster than changing a company culture. Changing how a five person team handles a specific process is faster than a town gets used to a new roundabout intersection.

And the icing on the cake is looking at all the change that has happened in the last one hundred years. Virtually no aspect of human existence has been change-free. Even at the same time that the changes we want are happening too slow for us.

Going back to the IT department that we all know and love, we need to spend time up front explaining the change to make sure that as many people as possible believe it is a good thing. The more that want it, the faster the organization will want the change. Having most of your users think you are implementing a change too slowly is much better than them thinking you are rushing a change too fast.

IT Leaders: How long will it take?

silhouette of men in construction site during sunset

“How long will it take?” A question full of risk, yet, one that gets asked of IT leaders frequently. IT leaders also ask it of their team, so it can be a double-edged sword. How can we deal with these requests for estimates?

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Two Articles in Golem.de, a German Magazine for IT professionals

A German magazine for IT professionals, Golem,de, published two articles related to my IT books.

First Days: Decision Making

compass on hand

As an IT leader, you make decisions that impact other people, often significantly. The decisions you make will affect the organization everywhere on the continuum, from tactical to strategic.

Some decisions require lots of thought and analysis. Some require less. How do you know?

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Who Should Be Fast?

bottom view of plane with contrail

We are all familiar with the saying that speed matters in business. Similarly, if everything else is the same, faster is better in business.

What we don’t talk about often enough is who needs to be faster.

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First Days: Manage Your Task List

postit scrabble to do todo

(The following is an excerpt from my book: The I.T. Leader’s First Days, a book to give a jump start to new IT leaders.)

As you enter leadership, you enter a world where you are primarily responsible for identifying and prioritizing your day-to-day task list. You won’t be working on a project list. You won’t be working from an agile sprint board. You won’t be working on the list of help desk tickets. You will set most of your tasks, not someone else.

These tasks will be large and small. Some will depend others and some will be only you. Some will be out in the organization and some will be with your team. Some will repeat and some will be unique. 

You will need to maintain a sense of priority among things that are very short term (return a phone call) or very long term (set strategy for all IT systems). 

Managing this wildly varying list is hard. Simple time management techniques struggle with the variety. It is also a very personal thing. Everyone has to find their own technique. 

Your task management technique will change over time. Constantly improving it will pay big dividends.

New Book! The I.T. Leader’s First Days

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Folks, I am very pleased to announce my second book. If you are a new or future IT Leader, The I.T. Leader’s First Days is for you. It covers the skills you need to have and how to come up to speed quickly in your new position.

The ebook is available NOW. Paperback & Hardcover will be available in the next few weeks.

Here is the book description for The I.T. Leader’s First Days:

As a new IT leader, you are stepping into a world of excitement and challenge. Prepare yourself.

You and your team must understand and apply ever-changing technology to make your organization successful. You must continually improve yourself, your team, and your company.

The I.T. Leader’s First Days introduces skills and techniques you need to be effective and provides you with the strategies for your first weeks and months on the job.

Long-time IT leader, author, and speaker John Bredesen leverages decades of experience to create the book you need to start your IT leadership career. Clear explanations with a splash of humor cover a broad range of topics needed to launch your leadership career. Check out The I.T. Director series to see all his books.

Starting your new job off right is important to you. This book will help you make your First Days successful.

Interfaces: The interconnectedness of all things

messy cable closet

In Douglas Adams’ novel, Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, the character Dirk Gently frequently talks about the “interconnectedness of all things.” He was talking about solving mysteries, but might as well have been talking about software. Interfaces are a significant part of the power, and complexity, of today’s IT department.

I would suggest that the interfaces are becoming as important as the functionality within a piece of software.

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Risk Management in IT

Sitting at a computer or in meetings doesn’t really sound like a risky job, does it? However, the job of an IT Leader is full of things that might go wrong: decisions that may backfire, projects that don’t work, or vendors that cause problems. Technology can fail, security can fail, backups can fail.

We don’t have infinite time or money to mitigate all these risks. We have to accept some.

How should IT leaders think about risk?

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Where IT and Business Meet

The point of the IT department is to help the organization succeed. To do this, we need to understand that organization and the world it operates in. In addition, we must understand technology products, services, and trends enough to know how to apply them to our organization. We must understand the overlap between business and technology. That is where the IT department lives.

While this concept applies to any staff group in an organization, including HR, Finance, etc., let’s look at what this means for IT.

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