“For $50 I can keep you up for 20 minutes”. How crude and offensive!
The sad thing is I am not quoting the depravity of the underground sex trade market, I’m quoting what is supposed to be a professional in the ITSM community. Now it’s not 20minutes of up-time, but it’s also not $50. Despite industry wide education and awareness on the value of “partnering” language, we still have IT people talking like service providers. In networking conversations, SOW reviews, product demonstrations and unfortunately
off the platform of our leading industry events, I keep hearing this type of potty mouth conversation.
I joke about it in my presentations. In reference to speaking like a service provider to your partners I say:
Imagine I came home from this conference and said to my partner… “Wonderful conference honey, I was 98.55% faithful to you”
How would that go over?
I would very quickly be discussing disaster recovery and financial management.
My partner knows I’m an idiot, and that I’m going to make mistakes. Our commitment to shared values and common interests are going to build open communication that will supersede all types of failure. (Take it easy – I’m still 5-9’s there). Dialogue needs to happen so that expectations and demands can be properly balanced. Partners work together to execute on decisions that are based on potentials and possibilities. Neither knowing for certain what is exactly required to produce great outcomes.
I remember when my son was 12 his grades declined from accelerated to below average due to school bullying. Something was clearly wrong. To address the problem lots of ideas were discussed between my partner and I, and we opted to send him to private school. This obviously took a larger financial commitment on my part, along with a larger commitment on my wife as she now had to drive him to and from school everyday. Each of us had an escalating commitment and responsibility to improve the conditions for our son, with the ultimate goal of him becoming a well adjusted adult. Since moving out 2 years ago he has paid for his own education, car, housing and lived in 2 different states experiencing different cultures. Clearly that hard work and commitment paid off.
My point is, to achieve greater outcomes a partnership needs to be clearly established, and both sides of the partnership need to agree to the commitment levels of improvement.
Most IT systems are failing to be well adjusted. IT and their business partners need this same level of relationship, open conversation and mutual commitment. We need to recognize that business goals are based on hypothesis, ideas that are going to go through a series of validations and iterations. Brainstorming with our partners to come up with a game plan, and committing to the increased escalation that is needed to achieve the ultimate goal. However, the language IT is using is failing to build enough credibility for the business to want to partner.
Calling your internal partner a customer is a foolish and unprofessional behavior. Thinking IT is some sort of Service Provider, who for value delivers outcomes to “customers” (internal partners), makes conversations about rising expectations, collaboration and ownership impossible.
There are 4 things every IT leader needs to put into the mindset of their staff:
- Our organization has only one customer. They don’t work here – we partner with our other functions to make them raving fans.
- Business Requirements are a myth. Our partners don’t know if their idea is going to work in this highly volatile business market. But we will partner with them to validate it as quickly as we can.
- Everyone and everything fails. We are going to experience circumstances or situations of failure. Are we learning from them, are we avoiding making the same mistake in the future, are we openly debating better ways to improve with our partners.
- There is no such thing as an IT Project only Business projects are funded. IT is the business enabler in the digital economy. We don’t have to sell the business on IT value, we need to validate business value. Thus we need to release changes faster, test quicker, and listen more closely to feedback from end-users and end-customers to know what’s working and what’s not. We optimize what’s working and we challenge new ways of thinking for what’s not.
So STOP your offensive language:
STOP calling your internal partners CUSTOMERS.
STOP calling and referring to yourself as a Service Provider
STOP talking about SLA’s with your partners and focus on targets and deals.
And for heavens sake, STOP talking about your IT services to your business partners as if anyone cares, they don’t.
In my next blog I’m going to discuss how IT needs to tear down silos if they really want to be a partner in the business strategy.