Stories by Rob Mackinnon

Agents of change

Sam Cooke's influential song, A Change is Gonna Come (circa 1963), echoed and foreshadowed the major societal shifts of the American civil rights movement. The engaging chorus scans: "It's been a long, a long time coming / But I know a change gonna come, oh yes it will."
This refrain may also herald a new order in IT that has been gathering force for more than a decade. Progressive CIOs are unseating their regressive counterparts and bringing new meaning to IT enablement.

Written by Rob Mackinnon02 Nov. 11 22:00

The way to break free

There is a universality to many aspects of the roles performed by chief information officers. Dictated by technology trends and strongly influenced by IT vendors, CIOs often find themselves following the dots, working to a pre-written script that sets out the initiatives they should be pursuing. Often they find themselves carrying out exactly the same types of projects as their colleagues in totally different business sectors. For some CIOs, this can be less than satisfying. Those seeking to break free may find the following approaches helpful.

Written by Rob Mackinnon08 Sept. 11 22:00

Lessons in defeat

Many organisations are reinvesting in large, multimillion-dollar, long-term technology projects. Many will fail. Indeed, with some recent program failures having been made public it is timely to re-examine the causes.
Problems observed in poorly constituted programs include:

Written by Rob Mackinnon01 June 11 22:00

Sharper instruments

Many program management offices (PMO) bludgeon their organisations into submission without necessarily delivering the business value that brought about their genesis. Formulaic approaches are often used with a focus on enforcing methodology and standardisation. The result is a PMO better suited as a policeman than a catalyst for achieving business outcomes.

Written by Rob Mackinnon04 April 11 22:00

Mojo rising

During the global financial crisis, many organisations lost their innovation mojo. Economic rationalism reigned, budgets were cut and fresh ideas stopped flowing. So how can IT innovation be kick-started? Consider this 10-point plan with your team and use it to help get those creative juices flowing.
1. Leadership: The propensity for staff to innovate can easily be stifled in an environment in which management don't place a high value on innovation. To improve, consider:

Written by Rob Mackinnon16 Feb. 11 22:00

Six steps to beat disaster

Failed IT-based business projects are newsworthy again. In Australia and internationally, significant failures and cancellations have resulted in hundreds of millions of dollars drained from corporate and government coffers and planned benefits waived. Disruption, and in some cases, severe stress, has resulted.
Intelligent Business Research Services (IBRS) believes the seeds of project failure are planted early. Beyond the dictates of project management methodologies and gateway reviews, we believe six critical ¬considerations need analysis before launching vital projects. Known as the 6C2 approach, we advocate independent assessment if a project simply can't be allowed to fail.

Written by Rob Mackinnon03 Oct. 10 22:00

Benefits under the hood

Many organisations have spent considerable sums of money establishing an enterprise architecture (EA) capability.
Whilst not decrying EA, it is also true that many of these endeavours have not fulfilled expectations in terms of value delivered relative to the investment made. Indeed some such initiatives have failed outright, producing countless diagrams and models that have failed to resonate with business people

Written by Rob Mackinnon02 Sept. 10 22:00

A culture of creativity

It would be unusual to find a C-level executive who does not have at least a glancing admiration for companies such as Apple, Google, Amazon or Intel. All are highly successful and known for their innovative cultures.
However, many organisations often act unwittingly in extinguishing the flame of creativity. Despite this, even in organisations better known as followers than leaders, it is possible for individual managers to create a fertile ideas factory within their sphere of influence. Ideas are like seeds that need fertile soil, ultra-violet light and sufficient irrigation to permit germination. Good ideas won't thrive in a hostile environment. Yet the culture in many organisations repudiates good ideas:

Written by Rob Mackinnon02 Aug. 10 22:00

How to deal with change

Many IT implementations fail to realise their original objectives. One symptom is that planned functionality is not utilised by staff to the fullest extent. Another is a noted tendency for staff to fall back into their ­comfort zones, using manually maintained records, spreadsheets and the like.

Written by Rob Mackinnon04 July 10 22:00

Bridge the confidence gap

Chief information officers want to be seen as visionaries within their organisations. Usually bestowed with higher-than-average intellect and unique insight into the workings of their companies, they are able to make a large contribution towards both organisational growth and innovation.
Yet, curiously, this rarely happens.

Written by Rob Mackinnon08 June 10 22:00

Tactical nous

Adventure is just bad planning" observed Roald Amundsen, the renowned Norwegian explorer.
Good strategic planning processes seek to avoid unintended consequences. They firmly focus on the destination and develop means of getting there with certainty.

Written by Rob Mackinnon04 April 10 22:00

Google and the CIO

Some commentators have been sceptical about Google's intentions with its new browser, the Chrome OS. Is it a mere distraction? Why has Google bothered? Is Chrome part of a broader plan? As a former chief information officer, I think Chrome seems to be just one element in a complete armoury of products Google is developing, all aimed at the CIO heartland.
Many information chiefs seek a world where low-value IT utility services have been swept away, allowing focus on strategy development and other value-adding activities. Relentless product development now positions Google well to deliver its own form of this CIO nirvana.

Written by Rob Mackinnon10 Oct. 09 22:00