At the core lies a “single task focus” and full engagement without holding anything back. Full engagement means not reserving energy for something else that comes later. Full engagement means to give everything you have right now (that could of course vary) in a short time-period to work on a task, be with your family or having fun in nature.
You should do it with your whole body and mind in a focused way. Then relax for a couple of seconds or minutes and then again. That way you oscillate between concentration and relaxation. At a later stage that further leads to oscillating between thinking and non-thinking, which helps a lot in being creative.
What if you do not do that?
If you don’t perform a task fully engaged, very often a trace remains in the brain. You probably know that from your own experience. I certainly know it. Sometimes, when I perform a task half focused and I don’t complete the task, my mind often spins around that situation. I then often think about that task, so actually in my mind, I engage to that particular task x times but never fully.
This is in the majority of the cases a complete waste of energy because I could have completed the task in one go if I were fully engaged.
If you don’t practice full engagement (knowingly or not doesn’t matter) the traces in your brain build up and if you are not careful enough with yourself a “monkey mind” builds. Restlessness, sleeping problems, concentration problems, quality problems, dissatisfaction and so on are symptoms of that.
So engage fully. If you don’t know how, drop me an email and I provide some helpful guidelines.
Today I went for a run in the woods. At a bridge I stopped because there was a wonderful swan in the stream. I was observing the swan for probably 15 minutes or so and thought about the difference between the swan and the human.
The swan behaved very elegant. The movements were aligned with the context – nature. The longer I looked the more I got the feeling that this swan is completely free from compulsive thinking. He (or she – I don’t know) is fully present.
What if that swan would have a human mind? Probably it would complain that ducks pass by. Probably it would think about a decision it made in the past, therefore re-live the past over and over again. And then it probably would think about what to do in the future.
The swan with a human mind would most likely not enjoy the moment, as it does with the swan mind. And he would probably sue me for taking a non approved picture :-).
What could we learn in order to be more productive? Let go of the past and engage actively in the now, therefore focus on the single task at hand completely and use time, past and future just for learning and planning.
Originally I did not aim to post product- or organization- specific articles. However, I am just on my way home from Rotterdam and ITRP organised the most fantastic IT event I ever attended, and I attended many over the course of the past 15 years.
The quality and passion of ITRP is not only reflected in the product but also in the people that surround ITRP. It’s prospects, customers and partners. We became one for one day.
It was really special and I am thankful that I got the honour from my people at techwork and from ITRP to present in front of so many passionate people.
The Difference of motivation for humans between ways to waste their time is a matter of personal concern. In the case of playing games in the artificial world instead of the real world, and maybe being more focused, is a purely personal decision. Lets simply compare cycling to playing a game by sitting in front of a tv. Its less energy consuming, because you only use small muscles which consumes less energy to achieve a goal.
Maybe Mountainbiking wasnt exactly the goal of the kid, but more a goal of a parent. The Tearup path is way shorter/time consuming to play a game on the tv, then to travel to a mountain with all the equipment. Maybe the result of playing a level in a game that concludes in an achievement is more appealing than the result of finishing the cycling tour on top of a mountain. If a person is not able to see a better achievement in mountainbiking then in playing a computer game, he will never start to ride the bike.
Its the same as in finding the goals of a project, where u need to see the priority in the single steps and the need / impact of the project as a whole. If the projectteam isn’t informed about the why, it won’t be encouraged to deliver at a motivated level of work. You can solve both problems with change management. You can only get your kids or your projectmembers to work to a specific goal if you are able to transport your motivation onto them. The personal aspect is of course way higher, but the method is the same.
Today I decided to write something personal. I had awesome hours with my kids. Now, I am in the process of reflecting the day because in sum they played about 3 hours on their play station, a game called “Little big planet 3”. During drafting my post I am watching them playing their final session. This makes me think about why they enjoy gaming so much. I am by no means an expert in psychology nor gaming. However, below I present facts and will post my thoughts later.
The world in that game is completely different, a complete different paradigm and nothing in common with the “real world”. This is a fact. In the afternoon, we spent about 2,5 hours in the woods. They started asking when we go back after 30 minutes. In about 20 minutes I will tell them that they shall stop playing because we are going to have dinner. They will complain and I will wait about 10 more minutes. The “real world” seems to be of less interest compared to the artificial world. Information exchange happens in form of pure and fast tactical decision making in form of talking, followed by yelling if something goes wrong :-). I haven’t them seen that engaged in the real world for a while. In fact except during rather difficult mountainbike tours I can not remember such a high level of focus and concentration.
Usually diagrams are used to form a common understanding about a more or less specific topic or situation.
Often without an explanation a diagram doesn’t form the desired understanding in others, which doesn’t mean that it’s wrong. This has most likely something to do with different mindsets. The mind tends to jump to conclusions fast in order to be efficient. However, giving a diagram away without any explanation could result in endless interpretations.
The diagram I recently created intends to show components of an ITSM tool from a high level perspective. I will use it mainly to show the interaction of those components based on common use-cases.
Recently I engaged in analyzing the efficiency of existing workflows within a global very well performing organization. By very well performing I mean financially, which is still the main indicator for the majority of people from the organizations external environment.
Take a look inside
I took a look inside and found out that simple things matter. The easies way to grasp inefficiencies is to talk to operational staff – they know all the inefficiencies and are always of great help. What I found was that processes are rather chaotic, which is for sure not negative in every case. However, in that particular case I would evaluate it as rather negative because people struggle with simple things like who is next in a certain workflow. They asked questions like: “How do I find out who is responsible for certain activities?” In addition the old workflow tool makes it hard to assign people to the next task because many functions like search and filter mechanisms are from the past. In terms of time “wasted” those things and other difficulties consume up to 20 %.
From an outside perspective I could argue that it does not really matter because the company, as already mentioned is doing very well, so why bother anyway? Doing well or doing not well has become rather short lived. Doing well today does not mean doing well in the next quarter or the next 2 quarters not even mentioning in a year from now. Todays economic volatility can hit fast, hard and painfully.
If a down cycle starts, chaotic processes and people struggling with tools and finding responsible people just makes the situation worse. Looking inside and fixing these simple things makes a lot of sense. Making sure that people find the right information when they need it does not only make the process more efficient by reducing time and effort, it also makes people happier because they know what to do and when. Ambiguity in this context is toxic for people. If people don’t know what and how to do something, they get frustrated and self esteem decreases which leads to more mistakes. In such cases many start talking bad about their work and sometimes about the organization they work for.
Make it clear what to do will contribute to sustainability
Our mission there is to decrease ambiguity and set up workflows in a state of the art tool where it is clear who is doing what and when. If we can reduce waiting time, coordination effort and search effort by only 5 % the whole initiative pays for itself and the organization will have more strengths in a down cycle.
The article is rather old as the original post was published in 2009. So we are already in the 7th year. I provide a reality check (in red) in the ITSM context after each prediction from my perspective.
The Future of the IT Department
Ten Predictions that will Change the Focus of IT Service Management
1. Most applications will be delivered as a service
This is the trigger that will gradually take us to an entirely new kind of IT department. Software as a Service (SaaS) will be the norm. This is unavoidable because the advantages are too great for both the software vendors and their customers.
In a true SaaS environment, we will no longer see traditional software hosted on a separate (virtual) server for each customer. Instead we will see a single production instance of an application. All customers will use the same instance to work securely with their own data. It will take some time for software vendors to rebuild the current applications to support this, but once they have, this will translate into enormous savings for them. When a customer reports a bug, they will be able to reproduce it very quickly. They no longer need to ask which version of the application the customer is using on which version of which operating system and on which version of which database. The vendor knows all this and has access to the log files.
Klaus’s perspective: This is true for a number of services. It might be even true for the majority of services. In the ITSM space this is rarely the case. I know technology details about some of the top “magic quadrant” vendors. The single production instance paradigm did not become reality in the ITSM space yet, except for some innovation driven vendors like ITRP (not on the magic quadrant).
The advantage for the customer is also enormous. Apart from skipping the initial steps of securing server and storage capacity, downloading the software and installing it, the customer will also get bug fixes shortly after they have been discovered. They do not need to download a patch, test it and install it. It will all be done for them. It is the responsibility of the software vendor to ensure that the production environment remains secure and responsive. If the vendor does not, all customers will be affected and the vendor’s reputation will quickly deteriorate to the point where customers will look for alternative vendors.
Klaus’s perspective: Yes but at least some of the “top vendors” still use their old code put it on a virtual machine in a data center and sell it as a SaaS solution to customers. In that case the benefits for the customer is wiped out.
Ten years from now, we will simply not be able to comprehend how we were able to provide IT services to end users. It will seem hopelessly complicated when we consider how hard it would be to build and maintain our own enterprise application environment.
Klaus’s perspective: This will probably need another decade to become reality.
Naturally, SaaS will eventually bring other benefits (e.g. collaboration across organizational boundaries and benchmarking), but I believe the abovementioned advantages are sufficient for software vendors to want to offer SaaS, and for customers to demand it.
Klaus’s perspective: The benefits of working across organizational boundaries collaborate with vendors, consultants etc. have the potential to be enormous. Sometimes it is very hard to make these benefits reality because people simply refuse to change. Efficiency and effectiveness clashes with job security and personal agendas.
2. Cloud computing will grow dramatically
Most software vendors will not have the scale or the desire to host their SaaS environments. Today most software vendors are not fully capitalizing the benefits of SaaS. They simply make a completely separate hosted instance available to each customer. It is relatively easy for software vendors to ask traditional outsources to host their applications in this fashion. Over time, however, software vendors will adapt their applications to be able to offer only a single shared production environment for each application. Traditional outsourcers will not be able to offer the same global coverage that cloud computing providers already offer today. This is a key requirement for software vendors when they start to optimize their application response times for their customers around the world. Hence software vendors will use the services offered by the largest cloud computing providers, like Amazon, Google and Microsoft.
Klaus’s perspective: Already in the 7th year, ITSM vendors still sell dedicated instances to customers. The benefits to the customers are very limited. The vendors simply add problems to themselves because they run different versions for customers, bug fixing and upgrades are even more complicated for them as they can not put the blame on consulting partners.
3. Outsourcers will suffer and consolidate
The corporate IT department has already figured out that it is a pain to provide processing power and storage capacity for all the enterprise applications. Many large corporations have centralized this in their datacenters to keep it manageable, others have already outsourced most of this. As more and more organizations choose to obtain applications for email, ERP, CRM, ITSM, etc. as a service, they will rely less and less on their datacenters and outsourcers as these applications will be running in the cloud.
Fortunately, there is more to corporate IT than the enterprise applications. PC support, first line support, wide and local area network connectivity, printer maintenance, etc. will secure the relevance of outsourcers in the future, but a large chunk of their business will move to the cloud computing providers. This will make the outsourcing industry even more competitive. Considering that there are literally thousands of outsourcers in the world, it is likely that we will see a wave of consolidation in this industry.
Klaus’s perspective: What I see is that the outsourcing trend slowed down. Many many organizations simply refuse to outsource viable services like ERP and CRM. ITSM is a support activity and this might be easier to outsource.
4. Smaller outsourcers will start to commit to resolution times
Historically, outsourcers have done whatever they could to avoid committing to resolving incidents within a specific timeframe. They have only committed to response times, which of course are next-to-meaningless. Worse, outsourcers even managed to ensure that their contracts include verbiage like: “…will use commercially reasonable efforts…”
To compete in the new, even more competitive, environment, small outsourcers will be willing to commit to measurable results. Eventually this will force the larger external service providers to follow suit.
Klaus’s perspective: I see smaller outsources to commit to resolution targets. Many big vendors still just commit to response targets. Fixing bugs takes often weeks, sometimes months.
5. The term of outsourcing contracts will become much shorter
When you ask IT managers whether they are happy with their outsourcers, you typically get the sense that they are very unhappy with one or two of them, yet they have come to accept their fate. Why? Because the outsourcer was already there when they took over and the contract will remain in place for several more years. The wording of the contract is such that the outsourcer cannot be forced to improve, so they feel that there is not much they can do about it.
External service providers will also benefit from SaaS. It allows them to use IT System and Service Management applications and pay on a monthly basis for their usage, without any long-term commitment. They will no longer need to acquire expensive software licenses when they onboard a new customer. In the past, they had to write-off these software licenses over a period of roughly 3 to 5 years. By also separating any hardware ownership from the agreements, an outsourcer will be able to substantially reduce the minimum term of an outsourcing contract. Whether they will be able to offer their services on a month-to-month basis remains to be seen, but the outsourcer that is able to do this will certainly have a competitive edge.
Klaus’s perspective: I see this slowly happening.
6. The corporate datacenter will disappear
As the enterprise applications are slowly moving from the corporate datacenter to the cloud, the datacenters will become smaller and smaller. With network and internet connectivity already managed by an outsourcer, there is little need to maintain the
Klaus’s perspective: In some companies this is already the case. Probably this becomes reality within the next 10 years.
7. The IT department will no longer require specialized technical skills
The elimination of the datacenter will cause a large part of the organization’s technical IT skills to move to outsourcers and cloud computing providers. The rest of the technical IT knowhow will move in the same direction as organizations start to feel more comfortable with the idea of outsourcing. This renewed trust in outsourcing will stem from the increased willingness on the part of outsourcers to be held accountable and the new ease with which customers can switch between outsourcers when they are not satisfied.
Organizations will entrust different parts of their IT infrastructure to different outsourcers. The days when corporations would outsource all of their IT to EDS or IBM are long gone, and it is unlikely that companies will ever again put themselves in a position where they are so dependent on a single external service provider.
The only technical skills that companies may choose to retain are those needed to develop and/or configure their core business applications from which they derive a competitive advantage, and for which a detailed understanding of the business is needed. Still, it may well be possible to only specify the functional requirements and leave the development to contractors.
Klaus’s perspective: Even by working with a number of different specialized outsourcers it is vital to maintain a knowledge bank. The contracts with the outsourcers should include that each outsourcer has to work with an appropriate tool.
8. The new IT professional manages agreements
Organizations will attract a new kind of IT specialist. They no longer need this person to manage a local area network, configure a new server, or install an application. These skills have moved to the outsourcers and cloud computing providers. The new IT professional will need to be able to negotiate and manage the agreements with the outsourcers and the business users.
Klaus’s perspective: Yes I agree, but IT managers still need to have IT specific know how otherwise decisions are made on a weak basis.
9. IT will again be managed by the Finance department
In the early days, the Finance department was responsible for IT. Back then they were the largest consumer of IT, so it made sense. Slowly other departments also started to rely on IT services to continuously improve quality, efficiency and predictability. At the same time, IT became more and more complex. The finance people no longer understood what these IT people were talking about. Eventually Finance was happy to grant IT its independence.
In the years to come, the Finance department will realize that they are better at negotiating and managing agreements than the IT department is. When this happens, we will see the responsibility for the IT services move back to the Finance department.
Klaus’s perspective: The finance department simply has not the knowledge to handle IT. What I saw in recent years is that IT managers become board members because very often IT managers understand the business better then many others.
10. Dependence on IT Service Management reporting will increase
The IT manager of tomorrow will need to negotiate changes when service level targets are not being met, when costs need to be reduced, and when functionality needs to be adapted to meet new business requirements. Negotiating and managing agreements requires different information than managing technology. The information that this IT manager requires will focus on service levels and the financial aspects of service provision. This information is as important to IT managers within outsourcers as it is to their peers who work for their customers.
What does this mean for IT Service Management applications? They need to be able to provide data that can be trusted by outsourcers, their customers and auditors. This data needs to be structured so that it will be possible to measure not just the level of service provided to the business, but also the level of service obtained from the outsourcers and software vendors.
One might argue that IT managers already require this information today. I totally agree. It seems, however, that until the responsibilities for the technical and operational complexities are removed from the corporate IT manager, this person will not be able to focus sufficiently on the service levels and service costs to make these the key requirements for selecting an IT Service Management solution. This may explain why it is still so incredibly hard, if not impossible, to extract this information from today’s leading IT Service Management applications.
Klaus’s perspective: Extracting Service Level data from ITSM tools is still a challenge in many applications, which is for me not understandable at all.
In recent posts I wrote about ITSM strategy and that implementation is often the tricky part. Not the technical implementation but the organizational implementation. Meaning people do not work towards a common goal – agreed by management.
Management often thinks that pople will automatically align because managers said so. Very often this is simply not the case. Recently I was part of a pre-go live operational staff training. People came to the training. About 20 % showed significant resistance right from the start without even seeing the technical application. I remember the first comment “what is that? I don’t need it…”. The problem in such a context is that others easily follow. Starting a training in that light is difficult because the intangible emotional energy easily turns from positive to negative. Turning negative to positive is a longer and sometimes very difficult process.
What could help?
If people see the purpose in a particular initiative then it gets easier. I use a 3 step process in an attempt to reduce resistance.
Step 1:Define purpose. Explain the purpose of the initiative to people. What does the organization gain. What does each individual gain. Finally what is in it for you….
Step 2:Facing the truth. Explain what the problem of the current situation is. Explain that each individual is important to achieve the goal. Explain that the help of each individual is important.
Step 3:Take action. Close the gap between the current and the desired situation. Explain clearly what action is required in order to narrow the gap.
The best ITSM solution and the best technical implementation is worth nothing if people don’t use it. If people don’t use it management can’t gain insights and can’t improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the processes.