A 'Call to Action' for IT Leaders

By Charles Araujo  |  Posted 10-29-2013
Man, Hand, ballpoint pen

A 'Call to Action' for IT Leaders

By Charles Araujo

IT is in a time of great change and churn. I think almost all of us can agree on that, but to what degree, and what to do about it, is often the subject of debate. Is this just another blip or is this something altogether different? If you've read my book, The Quantum Age of IT: Why Everything You Know is About to Change, you probably have a pretty good idea of what I think. Nonetheless, there seems to be a growing consensus that something is different this time, but the question of how we, as an industry, should respond sends IT professionals scattering in different directions.

Some IT pros believe that while this time is somehow different, it really is just more of the same. Learn some new lingo, develop some new technical skills, adapt. Others, like me, believe we are facing a tectonic shift in the foundation on which our industry is built. Moreover, a growing contingent believes that the only remaining choice is whether or not we will be a part of this change or if this change will be forcefully thrust upon us. But as I write this today, something is different from what it was just one week ago. Last week, a group of industry leaders got together and put forth a "Call to Action," calling on their communities and networks to recognize that we can no longer sit by and watch our industry fade. We must stand up and demand change.

At the annual Fusion 13 Conference, jointly produced by itSMF USA and HDI, a group of industry leaders, executives, practitioners and educators were gathered from what is largely considered the IT service management community. Originally brought together under the name "The Revolutionary Network," the group was assembled as a sort of think tank to imagine a new future for IT service management and the IT industry. (Disclosure: I am a board member of itSMF USA and was responsible for organizing the aforementioned group.) 

What happened next, however, was unexpected.

This group of 21 strong personalities took the moniker of being "revolutionaries" seriously and posed two questions to itself: Who are we fighting for? Why should they care?

As we grappled with these questions, a truth emerged. The IT industry and the IT service management industry have, as the Call to Action described, "become stagnated by a systemic and fundamentally broken set of attitudes and behaviors." We discussed with dismay how the very thing that us hoped would be a part of the solution was becoming part of the problem. We observed that our IT operating models were broken, that we were proving unable to respond to shifting business opportunities, that we were failing to adapt, and that we were failing to develop the new type of IT professional and leader with the types of skills and competencies that would be required in the very near future.

It was a sobering realization.

A 'Call to Action' for IT Leaders

It was sobering not just that we had articulated it, but that we realized we all saw it. Unanimously, we agreed that we had to call on our fellow service management professionals (and, I would argue, all IT professionals) to recognize that we need to shed what binds us to the past, to the old ways of working, to the things that are not working for us any longer. Whether they were carried out in the name of industry frameworks or provided the comfort of "This how we have always done things," these artifacts are leading to our destruction.

And so this group of vocal, opinionated and passionate IT leaders took up the name “The Service Management Congress” and drafted a Call to Action. The Call to Action is a bit of an IT Declaration of Independence. It states that we cannot stand for an industry that is stagnated and leading to our demise. That we must change. That we must transform. And that we must commit to making IT work in the right ways for the right reasons. The Call to Action is simple, but in its simplicity, it is also profound. If this idea of what IT is meant to be can take root and become manifest in how IT organizations operate, in how IT software companies produce and sell software, in how consulting companies deliver engagements, and in how training companies prepare their students, if these simple ideas can change how our industry operates, there may be hope after all.

For Change to Happen

As we were working on the Call to Action, we recognized that the only thing that mattered was if something actually changed. And we knew that for change to happen, this effort had to extend far beyond the people in the room. It had to become a movement. It had to be owned by the community. We—all of us as IT professionals—had to want this change to occur for it to become real. We drafted two additional supporting documents in draft form and, as we presented the Call to Action, invited the community to take them up. These two additional documents are the first steps to making this idea tangible. One is a listing of Core Values, developed with inspiration from the Agile Manifesto, and the other is a set of Information Rights.

They may be revised, extended or deleted. That's the part that comes next. That's how this goes from being a web page to becoming a movement. But a much more personal question begs: do you believe in Call to Action? Do you believe in the core idea that our industry is broken and that the only ones who can save it are, in fact, us? That's the real question.

I encourage you to visit www.smcongress.org. And if you agree with what it says, please offer your support. But, more importantly, ask yourself, What actions will you take, right now, to be a part of this needed change?

About the Author

Charles Araujo is the founder and CEO of The IT Transformation Institute, which is dedicated to helping IT leaders transform their teams into customer-focused, value-driven learning organizations. He is the author of the book The Quantum Age of IT: Why Everything You Know About IT is About to Change, is presently at work on two new books. Araujo is also the creator of DeepRoots, an organizational change methodology designed for IT teams. He frequently speaks and writes on a wide range of subjects related to his vision of the future of IT. You can follow him on Twitter as @charlesaraujo.