Role-ClarityI come across a whole heap (yes, that’s a technical term!) of “role confusion” in my consulting and training work. And it’s an insidious issue. Lack of role clarity leads to errors, miscommunication, redundancy, noise and wasted effort. It creates frustration, confusion, and, for a provider such as an IT organization, it leads to a poor customer experience and to the familiar refrain, “IT costs too much, delivers too little and is hard to do business with. They want to help us improve business processes, while their own processes are badly broken!”

It’s interesting to note that external providers generally don’t have this problem. They demonstrate high maturity and a level of precision in how processes, roles and rules of engagement are defined. They have to–it is crucial to how they make money and how they attract and retain clients–and talent! Internal IT organizations often like to say, “We run IT like a business!” But they rarely do. If they did, they would ensure role and operating model clarity–or they’d have a failing business!

You Can’t Transform a Silo’d Organization Silo by Silo!

Too often I see an IT transformation initiative being managed silo by silo:

  • Service Management is on a path to a better future–often on a great path, but it’s their own path!
  • Enterprise Architecture is on a path to a better future–often on a great path, but it’s their own path!
  • Solutions Delivery is on a path to a better future–often on a great path, but it’s their own path!
  • Business Relationship Management is on a path to a better future–often on a great path, but it’s their own path!
  • Project/Program/Portfolio Management is on a path to a better future–often on a great path, but it’s their own path!

The good news is that most of the ‘moving parts’ that comprise an IT capability are moving to a better, more disciplined and more intelligently designed future. The bad news is that:

  1. They are starting from different points on a maturity curve.
  2. Their destinations are usually roughly the same–unless you drill into the details (where the devil lies!)
  3. They are each following their own trajectories.
  4. Nobody is driving this holistically–it’s a set of relatively independent transformations.

The result?  Role confusion.

Pre-transformation Things Seemed to Work

Before each of the silos began transforming, work got done through a combination of:

  • “I know who to go to because she and I have worked here for years.”
  • Heroic efforts. Processes are either broken or undefined, but that’s fine because I can fix things and be the hero. And heroic behavior is rewarded.

So, before the transformation, things kind of muddled along–error prone, inefficient and frustrating to the business customer. But they worked. Now, in the heat of transformation, people are:

  • Positioning for power and influence.
  • Protecting turf.
  • Unable to see (or believe!) the “big picture” of the end state.
  • Afraid of loosing control. (“The old ways were not very efficient, but at least I understood them!”
  • So focused on their own silo, they don’t have the time, energy, or structural paths to clarify how all the moving parts engage.

I will pick up on Part 2 in the next week or so. Meanwhile, as ever, comments welcome!