How can you be certain that you have a strong base and infrastructure for your organization to succeed? Do all pieces of your organization fit together? In this first of the “IT Operational Excellence” series, Bob Anderson, with his 30 years of experience, explains that commitment is a critical step to successfully building a solid foundation for an organization to work from: The first thing that is necessary is that executive management must be committed. Not just support, but committed to all phases of the development implementation for each of what we are going to be calling IT Operational Excellence components. So we are going to be talking operational excellence in general, but IT operational excellence specifically. But what do we mean by committed? There’s the old joke that goes “when it comes to a bacon-and-eggs breakfast, the chicken is involved, but the pig is committed!” By that commitment we mean actively involved, not just a bystander nodding one’s head.
Critical Point: Commitment from the Leader
The most important commitment comes from the leader of the organization. Anderson stresses that you absolutely cannot lead by committee. A strong leader is needed, and that leader must be energetic, knowledgeable, and—most importantly—enthusiastic. As Anderson noted, enthusiasm is contagious, and so is apathy. Apathetic leaders will bring people down. The point of structuring your company the way Anderson suggests is change behaviors before anything else. He uses the famous physics example of objects at rest. An object at rest wants to stay at rest until acted on by an outside force. The leader must be that outside force. When employees leave their comfort zones, they can become more committed and, therefore, more willing to grow. “Mission critical,” as Anderson describes it “is to get people on board from the start.” It is important to note that this leader should be a responsible individual who is good with people and who has a good track record. This leader should be respected, not feared. Although it is easy to confuse the two, a leader is not a manager. A leader tends to be more in tune with goings on, according to Anderson, than a manager is. Leaders inspire. Organizational focus will continuously shift from the leader to the team and back again. A good leader must make all changes fluid and understandable. A good leader can and in fact should use tools to track progress. Even if a plan seems to be working smoothly, it is the leader’s job to make sure that the smooth running plan should also bring business values. Anderson presses checking progress and benefits. Visibility is crucial. Anderson deters from being anecdotal in the way things are done. We do not want to just talk about how things should be done; we should be continuously doing them well. There should be constant discussion and the ability to ask questions to increase overall understanding. Bob provides a free assessment here so that you may gauge how well you are prepared for Operational Excellence. Visibility allows there to be a strong infrastructure in place before anything begins. The next article in our series will discuss The Right Management System, the first piece of the IT Operational Excellence Puzzle.
Robert Anderson’s Bio: Bob Anderson has been with Computer Aid, Inc. since 1988. The majority of his 38 years of IT experience have been spent as a senior executive in large IT organizations. In addition to being published, Anderson has been the principal architect of CAI’s process management, event tracking, and resource management tool, “Tracer” and most recently created a free assessment survey to help organizations recognize where and how they can improve their operations. He has also built CAI’s Production Support & Training department. Anderson is also a decorated US Marine. He and his wife have two grown daughters and reside in Boiling Springs, PA.