This is basically the question that many project managers ask me when we have a discussion about adhering to governance. They want to know what value their project gets from adhering to governance processes, from generating artefacts for governance gates. The short answer is “none – governance is not something we do for you!”
I am a big fan of the Obsessive Compulsive Data Quality Blog and Podcast as I have mentioned elsewhere. Jim Harris takes a different, even slightly oddball, view on issues around data quality and data management and I find his podcast interesting, thought-provoking and even entertaining. The most recent episode of OCDQ Radio that I have listened to, entitled: Scary Calendar Effects was a very enlightening discussion on the ways that business time periods impact on IT. It also included a hilarious data quality-horror skit (OCDQ meets Friday the 13th). The most obvious example of one of these calendar effects is the quarterly reporting that US publicly listed companies seem trapped in: the need to report earnings on a quarterly basis gives company boards and executives strong incentives to focus on short-term objectives at the expense of long-term ones. This can impact on the ability of IT programmes and projects (often longer term in both execution and payoff) to gain funding or attention. Jim’s examples were all from the private sector. It got me thinking about what other calendar effects are present in the government sector.
I like Tim Harford’s books, and this is no exception: an entertaining and informative read on a new paradigm for success. Harford argues that you should avoid single, big, top-down, long-term strategies in favour of many, localised, small experiments that you can afford to have fail. Good experiments will succeed, bad ones will fail. This will give rise to emergent strategies – bottom up, localised approaches to solving problems that really work. If, during this process, you fail multiple times this should be both expected and planned for. Adaptability is key. Harford illustrates his idea with several intriguing case studies, including the war in Iraq and oil platform accidents. Highly recommended for those dealing with organisational strategy, innovation or just tackling the sorts of problems that are common in business.
Currently I am reading The Future of Management by Gary Hamel. I find the subject of innovation very interesting, and the specific subject of management innovation even more so. It is easy to see how innovative products can change our world. It is much harder to see the way that innovative practices (which are intangible) have or will change the our world. One thing that is striking me as I read this book is that its scope is innovation in the way that a whole company operates, and the target audience is typical management. I was wondering, however, if some of the ideas in the book might translate into slightly different domains. Specifically I was wondering how you might apply them to IT Project Management (the area where I spend most of my time) and what benefits you might get out of applying management innovation ideas.