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Summary of Mark Smalley’s presentation ‘IT Spring’ at the BPUG conference, Bratislava , 18 April 2012

23.7.2013 - BPUG Slovensko
IT Spring

‘IT Spring’ and ‘Occupy IT’ are terms that Mark used to refer to the dissatisfaction of the user community with how they are treated by IT departments. This has been the case for many years, but recently the users seem to be better equipped to challenge this situation. This is partially a generational issue – younger people, who are more comfortable with IT, are replacing older managers who tended to avoid IT. Another factor is the consumerization of IT – the average user no longer depends exclusively on the IT department because he or she can also uses readily available, cloud-based, applications to support his or her work. ‘Shadow IT’ – use of IT independent of the formal IT department – is reality. Mark’s main point is that the IT manager has to respond affirmatively to this challenge and embrace the opportunity to engage with his or her business counterpart. The traditional attitude “just tell me what you want (and then it’s your fault when it goes wrong)” is no longer acceptable. The IT manager has to develop not only more business knowledge but also business empathy in order to fulfill the business’s needs. For more on this topic, Mark refers to his papers IT Spring and IT is from Flatland, Business is from Spaceland, the latter addressing the often troubled relationship between business and IT.

Mark also referenced his favorite IT paradigm, the Big IT Picture, that he uses to clarify IT related situation by dividing the world up into the business community that uses IT, the IT department and suppliers who develop, run and change information systems, and the information systems themselves.

Personal development

On the topic on personal (leadership) development, Mark referenced various sources.

Professor Andrew Oswald is currently Acting Research Director at IZA in Bonn in Germany and Professor of Economics at the University of Warwick in the UK. His work lies mainly at the border between economics and behavioral science. He has researched psychological well-being extensively and has concluded that happiness is U-shaped through the life cycle. 

Charles Handy, a highly respected Irish management guru, speaks about the Line of Everything in thistalk (starting at 32:45). He emphasizes the need to constantly be aware of where you are on the you current development curve and to ‘reinvent’ yourself before it’s too late. 

Niccolò Machiavelli, the Italian historian, philosopher, humanist and writer, wrote about the role of luck. In the last chapter of his book The Prince, he states we only control half of our actions, the other half being determined by fortune. Therefore, he says, the man who adapts his course of action to the current circumstances will succeed. He also state that it is better to act (and take risks) than to be cautious. This last point ties in nicely with some that the American writer Mark Twain said: “In twenty years time, you will regret the things you did not do more than the things you did do”.

Project ‘Chicken’

Finally, Mark talked about Project ‘Chicken’. His elderly father, who lives alone just outside a small village in England, has started to keep chickens. Mark’s question was: “why?”. It wasn’t about the eggs they produces or the money that you get from selling them, it was about the fact that people buy eggs and that you can talk to people. The moral of the story was, when taking on a project, determine what the client wants to achieve. The outcome (conversation) is usually not the same as the output (eggs).

Mark Smalley

 
Posledná úprava 23.7.2013
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