Wednesday, 29 November 2017

Are you the right kind of role model?

I recently wrote about the differences between leaders and managers, but since then I have been thinking more about the type of people we interact with, rather than the role itself.

Whether you are a member of a team, a manager, team leader or any other role in an organisation, is the way you act having a positive or negative influence on those around you? Over the years, I have been lucky enough to work with a variety of different people in many organisations across the globe, some huge companies of thousands of employees and some small local organisations with less than two dozen employees.  What stands out in all of them is how some people influence their colleagues positively and others manage to bring the mood down immediately.

Is that important? As Phineas from Phineas & Ferb would say, "Yes, Yes it is".  I have worked with some people, at varying levels of hierarchical influence, who have made people glad to be there because they always have a cheerful demeanour, they are happy to help anybody out with any task, and when they aren't around, they are missed by the teams.  Others start to moan about something as soon as they walk through the door, whether it is the traffic, politicians, how much they ache from the gym, their partner or anything else that pops into their heads.  We all have moments where something winds us up and we want to vent, but if it is all the time, it brings people down.

So what should you do to make sure you influences people positively? My personal recommendations are:

  • Be aware. I'm not suggesting you take up yoga on a mountain top, but be aware of how you sound and come across. Are you complaining too much? Are you the negative one whenever there is a team meeting or announcement? Take a breath before opening your mouth; try to be more positive in your comments
  • Be positive. If anybody is positive all of the time, suggest random drug tests at your place of work. It's not humanly possible without some kind of assistance. But you can try and find the opportunities in the challenges or difficult situations you discover. Focus on what you can do, not what you can't.
  • Be empathetic. Try to understand what others might be feeling. Listen - really listen - to what they are saying and try to see things from their perspective. 
  • Show humility. If you don't know something, say you don't. If you know who knows more, let others know. Encourage others to get involved and give them the credit. Don't be too senior to get your hands dirty and do tasks perceived to be menial. 
  • Be professional. Small actions can make all the difference here. Get to meetings on time; dress appropriately. You don't need to wear a suit, but clothes that fit and are clean is a good start (brightly patterned and coloured lycra active-wear is probably not appropriate for any position other than spin class teacher!); communicate appropriately; be reliable and show integrity.

All of the above are key to creating a positive vibe in the workplace.  Whether your day is turning up, doing your job and going home, leading people through organisational change, running a company or looking after children at home, you need to display positive attributes to ensure that you are a good role model.  Empathy is, as I have hinted at previously, a key skill. However it seems to be lacking in many people. So can I ask that if ALL you take away from this post, is that you will focus on being more empathetic? That will help you become the right kind of role model that many people need. 

If you feel you or your colleagues would like assistance with anything mentioned, please do get in touch. I can help.

Friday, 20 October 2017

Manager or Leader?

I have been having a brief chat with someone about whether they should be hiring a leader
or manager and the discussion seemed worth sharing.

So, is a manager or a leader right for a role?

These two terms often get used interchangeably, or even by people who consider a leader to be less than a manager. After all, you progress form a Team Leader to a Manager, don't you? But what is the difference, if there is one?

There are a plethora of sites and articles out there defining the difference between the two types of role, but in the end it doesn't really matter what you are or have, as long as it is right for the position.

In very simple terms, because you will be able to find something on the internet that disagrees with me, a manager is one who ensures that things get done and focuses on tasks.  So if, for example, you have a position which needs to ensure that certain services or products are delivered in a set way by a set time, and the team just need to do that, you probably need a manager in that position.

Again, in simple terms, a leader understands and shares a vision and encourages or helps people to deliver it. Another example might be where a team needs to deliver certain services to a customer but it is not prescriptive in the way that the services is delivered, then a leader might be right in this situation. "We need to clean this house. Make sure that there are no dirty carpets, curtains, windows and the oven is clean". The vision has been set, and all get on to deliver that service. The leader might help to move furniture and do some of the tasks, but doesn't tell the team how to clean the carpets, unless they are struggling and need help.

Servant Leader
This is a relatively new term to many people. Within agile teams. Servant Leaders, such as Scrum Masters or Agile Service Managers, in that environment will lead the teams to become self-organising and remove any impediments that might slow down or stop delivery.  They are part of the team and not separate. As Robert K Greenleaf puts it
"The servant-leader shares power, puts the needs of others first and helps people develop and perform as highly as possible."

So should you have, or be, a manager or a leader? Well, I am a consultant, so my response would have to be; it depends.

Managers will probably be more focussed on getting tasks delivered in an agreed way. e.g. Finance Manager or HR Manager.

Leaders will be focussed on helping a team to deliver against a vision. I believe that IT Operations Managers or Development Managers should be leaders more than managers.

Servant leaders will be focussed on helping the team become self-organising and enabling them to deliver with minimal hurdles. Think Scrum Master or even Service Desk Team Leaders.

There is no right or wrong role. It really needs to fit the position. A leader won't always fit in a management role, and a manager won't always fit in a leader role.  Work out what you need, and then find the right type of person to fit that need. And if you are a natural leader, understand that if you move into a management position, it just may not suit you and you might become frustrated.

Tuesday, 30 May 2017

To BCP or not

I recently shared an article written by +Mike Elgan about the fact that, in the US at least, laptops will not be allowed in cabin of aeroplanes and of the demand, whether current or future, for access to smartphones by border patrols.

While this is worrying for many people, businesses need to plan for this. Those organisations that have staff members travelling to and fro from the USA, and many other countries soon, need to be prepared.

The equipment mentioned is, for those travelling for work, likely to be owned by the organisation.  So what happens for that business traveller when the laptop is irreparably damaged in the checked-in luggage, or stolen? What happens to the data stored on it? What happens if border patrol demands access to the smart phone?  This isn't a case of "Call IT and get it replaced". This has a huge business impact.

Business Continuity Plans are (supposed to be) written by business units to document how to handle and recover from threats to an organisation or business unit. They are generally written as a response to major disasters, or issues that stop staff from attending offices (flood, fire, disease, etc). Most won't consider this as a large enough impact. They should.
Business continuity planning (or business continuity and resiliency planning) is the process of creating systems of prevention and recovery to deal with potential threats to a company.  Any event that could negatively impact operations is included in the plan........

Businesses cannot, nor should they, expect IT to be handling this for them alone. IT will be able to respond with an IT Service Continuity Plan, based on the Business Continuity Plan, but not second guess the impact to the wider business.

If you are a senior manager in an organisation where anybody travels overseas for business, you need to consider the impact, what your staff will do if they lose the laptop or smartphone, and what you will do if the data stored therein is compromised.

Should staff have company data on the laptop or phone?  If so, is IT aware of this and have you asked them to come up with a way of protecting that data?

This is no different to staff having laptops stolen out of cars, but it now needs to be front of your mind.  Don't expect IT to know what you want. IT are a part of the business and you need to work together to ensure that you have considered the impact, understood the risks and planned for it.

Prepare your plan and provide all travellers with a towel. Then, you can, as Douglas Adams advised in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

Image result for don't panic towel

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Training, training or training?

Last year I wrote a blog discussing whether you should go for on-line or classroom training.  Since then, I have become a Registered Education Partner for the DevOps Institute & PeopleCert, offering on-site classroom training in DevOps Foundation, Certified Agile Service Manager and Certified Agile Process Owner.  I have also become a certified trainer and delivery partner of GamingWorks for The Phoenix Project.

So, which type of training should you go for?

Well the blog from last year still stands. On-line suits some people and classroom suits others. However the new kid on the block (from my point of view) is the business simulation game. As I mention here, there is a lot more to it than formal training and to get a good overview of DevOps, how it will work for you and how you can use the principles in your day to day job, the Phoenix Project business simulation game is worth considering.

Check out the different offerings we have, here, and get in touch to see how we can help you, your teams and your organisation.

Why attend The Phoenix Project business simulation game?

knowledge.pngPeople are often sent on training courses to gain knowledge of particular subjects.  Usually, people are given the theory in traditional classroom courses or e-learning modules and are then left to gain the experience in a real life, often mission critical, environment, without guidance or support; then people complain that the best practice is no good, whereas a lot of the problems are associated with our inability to translate the theory into practice, and not understanding how to apply it.

A business simulation game is a form of experiential learning, or learning-by-doing. People learn, in a number of game rounds, to translate theory into practice. They learn how to use the theory to achieve measurable results.  

Does this mean that they need to have attended a training course first? No, not at all.  By attending a business simulation with no preconceptions of the theory of “how to do it”, people learn as much as those who have attended training.  Sometimes more.

Are business simulation games only for IT? Again, no. Business simulation workshops like The Phoenix Project, allow those from the wider business to experience what IT experiences and learn how to build a closer working relationship with IT in a “safe” environment where everyone can try and fail, or try and succeed, without a business impact.

To find out more about The Phoenix Project business simulation workshop visit

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Why do I need to think about DevOps when I don’t do Dev?

Some days it feels like everyone is talking about Devops. If you read industry blogs, follow groups such as Back2ITSM on Facebook, or talk to people in our industry, someone will start to mention DevOps fairly quickly. That’s fine if you work in an organisation that does software development, but surely it doesn’t matter to you if you don’t. Or does it?

A year or so ago, I was talking with Rob England about Devops and I couldn’t see how it would affect the types of organisations that I generally consult to; small, “traditional” IT shops with off the shelf software being used, with no development. We had a great discussion about it as part of an ITSM Crowd recording.

I now feel that I understand DevOps better, although there is still plenty more to know as DevOps evolves and more people get involved in it, but my understanding is still very much on the Ops side of DevOps.

So, if, like me, you have your heart in Operations, what does DevOps mean, why should you care and can it help you?

What does it mean?

According to
"The first sentence on Wikipedia defines DevOps as “a software development method that stresses communication, collaboration and integration between software developers and information technology (IT) professionals.” Well, that’s a fairly dense definition, yet still pretty vague. I think DevOps can be explained simply as operations working together with engineers to get things done faster in an automated and repeatable way."

DevOps, at it’s core is all about bringing together Dev & Ops and the wider business and ensuring that the cadence of development delivery can be matched and managed at the same pace by Operations. DevOps also encourages the use of the goals of CALMS; Culture, Automation, Lean, Measurement and Sharing.

Very (and I mean very) simply, they mean:

Culture; The culture of collaboration is one of the key ones and guides the bringing together of Dev& Ops and the wider business. It’s not about them and us, but about us all working together to get things done better, quicker and cheaper. It doesn’t happen overnight though.
Automation; Wherever possible, automate tasks. Automate testing, deployment, integration, incident resolution, everything that can be.
Lean; Reduce waste. If it doesn’t need to be done, don’t do it. Move quickly and continuously learn and improve. If you try something and it fails, never mind, try something else quickly. You are allowed to fail in DevOps.
Measurement; Measure what you need to to ensure that you know that you are improving.
Sharing; Share responsibility & knowledge between Dev & Ops. It’s what it’s all about.

Why should you care? Well, the world is changing. While there are still many organisations out there who “only” do traditional IT and use the ITIL framework as the loose guide to handling calls and changes, we need to acknowledge that there are different and often better ways to do the job. So you need to be aware of what is happening and be open to changing the way you work. Do you want to be that person who says “We’ve always done it that way!” or “ That’s not how we do it here”?

Can DevOps help you? Yes. It can make you work together and remove some, if not all silos in IT. It can also help you work closer with the wider business so that everyone understands the drivers and priorities for the work that IT does. It can help you to trust each other more and move away from the blame culture that still persists in some organisations. It can allow you understand that it’s ok to try something and fail. It can make you think about automating stuff through scripts or pre-approved changes. It can encourage sharing.

There is a lot of good stuff in DevOps which can and should be adopted by those with no Dev.

So how do you start the thinking? 

There is training in DevOps, which provides you with an understanding of the principles and the language used, DevOps Foundation, which I can provide through on-line training or on-site classroom training.

There is also the Phoenix Project business simulation workshop which is based on the book by Gene Kim et al and takes you through the usual issues experienced by IT and guides you through applying DevOps principles.

Get in touch and see how we can help.

Thursday, 16 March 2017

SIAM - what's it all about

SIAM, what is it?

According to Scopism: Service integration and management (SIAM®) is a management methodology that can be applied in an environment that includes services sourced from a number of service providers. SIAM has a different level of focus to traditional multi-sourced ecosystems with one customer and multiple suppliers. It provides governance, management, integration, assurance, and coordination to ensure that the customer organization gets maximum value from its service providers.

The SIAM ecosystem includes the following layers:
  • Customer organization
  • Service integrator
  • Service providers, which can be internal or external

What does that mean?

Scopism, in the published body of knowledge, states that SIAM is an evolution of how to apply a framework for integrated service management across multiple service providers. It has developed as organizations have moved away from outsourced contracts with a single supplier to an environment with multiple service providers. SIAM has evolved from the challenges associated with these more complex operating models and supports cross-functional, cross-process, and cross-provider integration.

It creates an environment where all parties:

  • Know their role, responsibilities and context in the ecosystem 
  • Are empowered to deliver 
  • Are held accountable for the outcomes they are required to deliver. 

SIAM introduces the concept of a service integrator, which is a single, logical entity held accountable for the end to end delivery of services and the business value that the customer receives.

As Kevin Holland says in An Example ITIL®-based Model for Effective Service Integration and Management Whitepaper,

Effective SIAM seeks to combine the benefits of best-of-breed based
multi-sourcing of services with the simplicity of single sourcing, minimising
the risks inherent in multi-sourced approaches and masking the supply
chain complexity from the consumers of the services. SIAM is therefore
appropriate for businesses that are moving to or already have a multi-
sourced environment. The benefits of a well-designed, planned and
executed SIAM model can be realized by businesses that use multiple
external suppliers, a mix of internal and external suppliers, or several
internal suppliers. SIAM is therefore appropriate for most of today’s
Copyright © AXELOS 2015. All rights reserved

So if you work in an environment where you use multiple service providers, or are a service provider, having a good understanding of SIAM will put you at the fore of your industry.

Currently the SIAM Foundation course and exam are only available as on-line training and we are the only reseller in New Zealand. 

For more information, check out the course details on our website or contact us by email or phone

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

It is OK to reach out.

Reaching out to others to ask for help is not a sign of weakness.  The need to consider this can be for various reasons, including:
Family violence / abuse
Workplace abuse
Personal Development
Image result for reach outBusiness improvement

Family violence and abuse is addressed through the wonderful It's Not OK campaign.
Depression is addressed through
Workplace abuse is addressed in NZ through

Personal Development and Business Improvement are harder issues to tackle.

Personal Development can be handled through training (formal and on-the-job) and mentoring.
Business Improvement is often left to consultants to come in and drive change. However, that doesn't mean that the people in the jobs, don't know what they are doing. Quite often, they know best, but are either not listened to, or, more likely, don't have time.  That's where consultants can add value.  A good consultant should listen, understand where the pain points are, listen to those on the ground and then work with or lead the teams to plan and implement those improvements.

If you would like to discuss any of the above, please contact me for Personal Development and Business Improvement via

If you are experiencing abuse or depression please contact one of the groups above, who are there for you.