Yesterday we were in Denmark and today we have just finished up in Belgium. These are the birth places of Hans Christian Andersen (extensive writer including fairy tale of The Little Mermaid) and Georges Remi (the Belgian cartoonist of Tintin) and understandably, something the respective countries are very proud of.

Blog 7 mermaid Blog 7 Tintin V2


As we listened to a variety of public sector IT and business leaders, we recognised that storytelling, even if it is not yet a happy ending, it is an important part of work life in this part of the world. M?ori culture includes storytelling such as whakatauk? (proverbs) and M?tauranga M?ori (knowledge/wisdom shared by elders,) yet in our business culture, by comparison, storytelling seems to be low profile and underutilised.

What we have consistently heard from these leaders is that our job, as a CIO, is to effectively do ourselves out of that role (there are other steps up the value chain, as mentioned in Blog 5!) where we need to have senior business ownership in all we do. How do you that when IT terminology or complexities can be scary to some executives and, to others sometimes not perceived as a priority for now? Forms of storytelling have been their way of sharing a common understanding, a common language and powerful influencing for shared commitment.

Two organisations I spoke with, acknowledge they are like a family. There will always be great discussions, they will likely to have differing opinions, and possibly some members will disappoint, yet it is family. This means they will not ‘dis’ each in front of others, and they will always do what is best for ‘the wh?nau’. Trite you might say, yet both these organisations are taking on massive challenges only you and I could imagine as a worst case scenario for ICT stabilisation and service transformation. They are making significant progress because the stories of how they are getting there are becoming their customs and rituals ? debunking the myths and silencing the naysayers.

Another story we have heard a number of times is that those IT units that have standardised their service offerings in desktop, laptop, mobile devices, etc to lower costs and simplify their environment, seem to have lower IT satisfaction with executives, which can hinder support for larger and more important initiatives. Those organisations that have the highest support for ICT investment (funding and time) are the ones that have put in place a quality (one called it ‘gold plated’) service including 24/7 or onsite, etc just for senior leaders.

Now, a cynic would interpret that the story here is that cutting costs is okay, but not where it impacts higher up. Another way of reading this: whilst costs will be a bit higher in one service line, costs and impacts in other areas ? where it will be more important in the longer term especially the value of time ? can be significantly reduced. I am going to think about the next chapter of this story with my team on my return next week.

Through all my meetings and study, many story lines come to mind and just a few include:

  • How do we better optimise our portfolio of change candidates where demand will always outstrip supply of resources? Leading organisations have a team that focus on how much change can an organisation really absorb (addresses the eyes bigger than the stomach situation).
  • How do we uplift the supply side (our capability) to close the demand gap? Some organisations are being innovative and leveraging ‘place’ shared services (within their communities) and some have expanded arrangements with tertiary institutions to utilise the extension of students’ desire for early work experience.
  • How do we better optimise how we organise ourselves ? within an agency, a sector or cluster (our ICT operating model)? What many are now embedding in their teams is a multimodal (‘two speed’) capability of one part doing traditional ICT, including looking after the core while smaller multi-disciplined teams go at great speed to deliver smaller changes for specific parts of the business; some without fall-back, as David outlined in Blog 6.  
  • What are we doing well and what should we keep? Most telling, compared to many of our peers, is that we have a good foundation of common capability services and we have a shared strategy, including the 10 Result Areas. Many of the jurisdictions were envious of this clarity and sense of purpose to deliver better public services. 

David will be submitting our final blog and when we return and we will provide many opportunities to share wider and deeper our learnings. We look forward to the discussions we can have with the appropriate actions to follow.

THANKS to all the ‘characters’ who have made this Fellowship possible including LDC, NZTA, the Transport Sector, and Gartner and Unisys representatives in New Zealand and abroad. This has been a fairy tale learning experience – at both a professional level and also personal – and we are not anywhere near the end of this story yet.

Regards, Craig