Monday, June 3, 2013

Are you a Cop or are you the entertainment?

'Cause you can't be both.

One thing I hear all the time from IT organizations is that they are seeking to become services organizations.  They want to be an internal service provider or a "valued service provider."  I think that this is a very good thing and I always encourage my customers to take this direction if possible.

Unfortunately, what usually comes next is "and of course, we will need to maintain security standards and best practices."  Whoops.  That's not going to work.

If you think about people you do business with, they're usually folks that you like and you want to do business with.  Unless they're a monopoly like the cable company.  If you had a viable alternative to cable, would you take it?  Probably.  Nobody likes the cable company.  That's because you're forced to do business with them.  That type of relationship doesn't really end well once a viable alternative shows up.

Same thing with transforming your IT organization.  If your goal is to provide a very high level of service to your internal customers, you can't do that by telling them what NOT to do.  Think about it.  You don't invite the police to your party to help your guests have a good time, right?  Not that there's anything wrong with the cops, but they're definitely in the business of telling you what not to do.  They are not there to entertain you or help you have a good time.  No, you hire entertainers at the party and hope the cops don't show up.

How does this relate to IT?  

I think that we need to recognize that as an IT organization, we are in an impossible position when we attempt to both enforce rules and behave as a customer centric services organization.  In reality, no one organization can do both successfully.  I have never seen it done.  I'd be happy to be wrong here, please let me know if you have ever seen this done well.

My recommendation here is to split the function.  A small security and compliance function under the CFO along with all the other audit functions and a customer service organization under the COO.  This allows the two facets of IT to do their things without expecting the cops to sing and dance.

In the meantime, please check out my new "Masters Series" videos.  This blog post was inspired by my Masters Series interview with Alan Hakimi.  If you're an Architecture geek like I am, these videos are fascinating glimpses of how architects work.  Enjoy.

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