Friday, 22 July 2011

Climate Change

I'm heading down to the Languedoc in southwest France later today. I planned this trip some time ago and the idea is to enjoy the cultural and culinary delights of the region and to write a lot (not blogs, I'm working on a book). In addition, I was also looking forward to having a real summer and topping up those vitamin D levels. The last time I visited that region (in 2007), the temperature was regularly in the mid-thirties, and even in the dead of the night it was very hot. I've been keeping a close eye on the weather in recent weeks, and those who watch Le Tour de France will have also noticed that there has been a lot of rain in southern France this year. The Languedoc, a normally sun-pounded setting, is a little less so this year, leading folk to talk about climate change.

Thursday, 23 June 2011


I thought I'd take some time out from some rather serious and quite involved writing that I'm doing to exorcise (exercise?) a minor obsession of mine.

Organisational culture seems to be a buzzword in ITSM circles at the moment, and for good reason. I think its becoming clear to most that the laudable aims of our discipline cannot be achieved without paying attention to the people who work within the sector. Good old homo sapiens, were not like microprocessors; we don't execute a JP NZ 4000H command if certain conditions are met or not met. So the question appears to be, how do we align the mindset of those working in the ITSM enterprise with its stated goals.

The answer to most is simple. Get the culture right.

Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Out of contract

It's been an intense year of analysing ITSM data for a large fast-growing enterprise, but the contract is over, the Fairday Research Ltd coffers are suitably replenished and I'm back to exploring people and organisational issues within the ITSM field. In fact, during the course of this contract I sketched the outline of an idea which I look forward to sharing with readers here. It draws upon the previous foci of this blog (culture, motivation, autonomy etc.), but also introduces some new theoretical ideas into the mix. The work pressures during the contract were such that I had a very limited amount of time in which to develop the concept so I have much research and fleshing out to do. As of today (Tuesday) I'm still in post-contract chill mode, but from Thursday I'll be surrounding myself with books and journals in Sheffield University's Western Bank Library (pictured), where hopefully I'll begin tying all the threads together.

As for the contract, it had its pros and cons, much like every other ITSM assignment I've ever taken on, with the additional stress of a 250 mile round-trip commute! There were extremely demanding directors on both the business and the IT sides of the fence. So demanding were they in fact (for statistics, analyses, reports, new initiatives, new processes) that it seemed to me that the organisation had evolved a structure geared in large part to meet those demands rather than using the considerable abilities of the workers to create increased value (via efficiencies, automation etc) and deliver great service. Such an approach is predicated on the idea that the ten people at the top are better placed to innovate than the 500 specialists 'below' them. Such organisational toxicity ultimately helps no one; neither the customers nor the staff, nor ironically the top brass themselves. What CIOs want isn't always what they need...

Sunday, 13 February 2011

One for the Work Psychs.... Opportunities in Disguise.

As a member of the British Psychological Society, a copy of The Psychologist lands on my doormat every month. My current IT service management (ITSM) assignment contains little in the way the of formal work psychology (although informally I draw on much of the knowledge regularly), so the publication is a welcome method of staying connected to the last research findings and trends. A recent issue contained a debate about the future of occupational psychology, and while there were many interesting views expressed, Professor Rob Briner's honest and critical appraisal of the discipline chimed with me the most. He argued that practice can be compromised through too close an association with those who pay (the management), and that the practice of work psychology is often indistinct from the work of management consultants, despite being supposedly grounded in scientific method. In reality, he suggested that work psychology has only really made a lasting impact in the area of psychometric assessment.