In her Personality Matters series, Leslie Sachs examines the personalities and people issues that are found in technology groups from cross-functional, high-performance teams to dysfunctional matrix organizations.
There are many people who do not like structure. Application lifecycle management (ALM), and, even more so, IT infrastructure library (ITIL) as a framework, touch some people's buttons as being just too much structure. In this article, Leslie Sachs examines the personality factors that you need to be aware of when implementing ALM and ITIL/IT service management (ITSM).
There are many people who do not like structure. Application lifecycle management (ALM), and, even more so, IT infrastructure library (ITIL) as a framework, touch some people's buttons as being just too much structure. That can be a real problem when you need to implement a set of standards to support repeatable processes. What are the factors that help you achieve success, and what are the risk factors that you need to be aware of? In this article, we'll examine the personality factors that you need to be aware of when implementing ALM and ITIL/IT service management (ITSM).
OCD and CM
In Configuration Management Best Practices: Practical Methods that Work in the Real World (Addison-Wesley, 2010), I discuss that for those struggling with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) or Asperger's syndrome (a high functioning form of autism), the need to follow their own standards is difficult to subordinate to what may “feel” to them like arbitrary constraints . There are other personality issues that may result in significant opposition to implementing best practices, including those who just don't deal well with accepting others' ideas . These personality issues are more than just a nuisance as they threaten the success of your efforts to improve your own processes including implementing ALM and ITIL/ITSM.
Introducing Order Where there Is None
A variety of obstructive behaviors can impact introducing order where there is none. I always point out that the savvy manager will not fight this issue head on, but instead make the case to all stakeholders that things will run more smoothly with these improved processes. There are a lot of group dynamics that you need to consider in implementing any of these best practices. The first step is to realize what you are up against and come up with a strategy for addressing the tough personality issues that may threaten to undermine your attempts to implement ALM and ITIL/ITSM. How well you are communicating is important to consider.
Communication is fundamental and often is lacking in many organizations, which can be a very serious problem that needs addressing. The first step is always to recognize the root cause of poor communication and its impact on effective consultation. There may actually be a number of reasons why your team is struggling with effective communication. The corporate culture may have a history of communication issues that became part of the organizational psyche. Carl Jung discusses the collective unconscious shared by a group or society that is the result of experience . Many organizations have a history of poor communication, which results in a defeatist attitude that is extremely difficult to overcome. You may need to start small, but you must put a strong focus on promoting effective consultation through effective communication. Frameworks, like ITIL and ALM, provide a structure for institutionalizing best practices.
ALM as Communication
ALM boasts many best practices that can instantly improve communication between all stakeholders. This may be as simple as communicating which tasks need to be completed and by whom. ITIL also provides a powerful structure for communicating through its excellent change management structure. ITIL/ITSM helps the team communicate more effectively by providing a set of common practices that everyone can understand and follow. Both ALM and ITIL/ITSM provide guidance, but the simple fact is that it takes dedicated people to get the job done and some of them need to provide the requisite leadership.
Every organization needs its change agents, and that is true in implementing ALM and ITIL/ITSM, as well. Savvy managers need to identify which members of their team can play an effective role as leaders. Others may be better suited as the negotiators who help the other members of the team reach consensus. As manager, you need to make wise choices in empowering members of your team to be effective.
 Aiello, Robert and Leslie Sachs. Configuration Management Best Practices: Practical Methods that Work in the Real World. Addison-Wesley, 2010, p. 156.
  Aiello, Robert and Leslie Sachs. Configuration Management Best Practices: Practical Methods that Work in the Real World. Addison-Wesley, 2010, p. 157.
 The Structure and Dynamics of the Psyche (Collected Works of C.G. Jung, Volume 8), C. G. Jung Princeton University Press; 2 edition, 1970
Effective implementation of process models like ALM and ITIL/ITSM require the right set of tools, especially in terms of the personalities who will perform these roles. Managers need to consider these people issues to select the right mix of players who can be effective at implementing these practices.