Sunday, 18 December 2016

Oh, hello.

I'm back.

Not for long though. Just to share some thoughts about 2016.

Ha, ha, not the big geopolitical picture - I'm sure that is going to be analysed to death in the next two weeks.

I'd rather talk about my 2016: ITSM, data , organisations and all that.

From a personal professional perspective, it was an interesting year.

After a number of years of delivering data solutions in diverse industries, I returned to my ITSM roots to put my skills to use here.

I was a little surprised to find that not a great deal of the fundamentals had changed. In the particular organisation I was working in, things were ticking over adequately, but the leaders were obsessing about the failings.

It’s the right thing to do I suppose, that striving to be better. But my, isn’t there’s a lot of shouty opinion in ITSM!

I had some dealings with qualitative customer satisfaction data and I was heartened to find that many of the reports of positive experiences were centred around the individual service giver. It was rare to read respondents enthusing about the process or the toolset, but there were many comments of the nature of “Eileen was amazing. She was really knowledgeable and patient, and not only fixed the problem, but showed me what to do if it happened again”

This was all very heartening as it fits squarely with the elegant theoretical conception which I outlined in my 2014 book. In summary, it goes: find the right people with the right values, set them free, but obviously keep light elements of control to guide and channel and keep them focused.

The other great thing that came out of this assignment was the realisation that the way that ITSM functions use data is a bit outdated. In my opinion, they could be a bit smarter about it and use the power of statistics, and the easy availability of tools such as R, SAS, and SPSS to take a good deal of the guesswork and opinion out of the practice of IT service.

I’ve written a paper about this which I believe that the itSMF will publish soon. Even if they don’t, I’ll be posting it on my Medium and LinkedIn pages in the new year.

As for 2017, I’ve accepted a new job. I’ll be an employee again after years of freelancing! It’s a super position – I’ll flitting between data development and data science in a global and important role. And it’s not ITSM!

My parting wish for ITSM is as follows – I hope that everyone can try pull together instead of pulling in different directions. I think the surety which improved data methods can provide will help that. I hope that leaders can learn to trust their people more - yes, of course there are some who are not worthy of trust, but I say again, replace them with individuals who hold suitable values – and then trust them. And then set them free.

I’m not sure I’ll be returning to ITSM, so I hope you guys get to where you want to be. But then again I said that the last time I left – so you might not have not seen the last of me!

Friday, 8 January 2016

Truth and Work

Gormley at Yorkshire Sculpture Park (Peter Johnson)
This may be a somewhat naive position, but I am among those who believe that academic pursuit should aim towards truth. That truth may indeed be relative, but I hold to the view that the goal must be to seek a universal a truth as possible. This is certainly not an unusual idea; it is normally expected that the work of (quantitative at least) researchers is guided by the search for generalisability. This epistemology holds that - as far possible - good findings are applicable to individuals, groups, societies and even humankind. Indeed, like natural scientists everywhere, work psychologists should also be aiming for truths that apply across the universe!

From the sublime to the mundane. That is, from work psychology as a quest for universals to work psychology as tool of corporate management. It has occasionally been suggested, that within this subject area the pursuit of scientific truth can be deflected by the interests of industry. The effect of this would plainly be that some work psychology research is weighted towards the realpolitik of the enterprise (profit, productivity, efficiency) rather than the greater human truth of the people (staff) within it. Therefore, in such instances teleological assumptions would not resemble, for example 'well being at work as important human end in itself', but rather 'well being at work as a psychological device to enable greater end product'. If work psychology is underpinned by the latter then perhaps the discipline should be conceptualised on a rather more vocational basis; i.e. all the best courses and great research programmes in the grandest universities are no more than training for the next generation of managers and consultants:

Enrol on a work psychology course and learn how to make staff work better, longer, harder.