How did this happen on my watch? Avoiding our own phone hacking moment

“Baffled, humiliated, humbled”… the very public exposure of the Murdochs and some of their News Corp colleagues over the past few weeks has left senior executives in many organisations feeling decidedly uneasy.  Whatever the truth of who knew what in News Corp, this is not the first case of a corporation being stopped in its tracks  because customers, staff, investors or the community  were being treated in a way that was clearly totally unacceptable, yet had somehow become the norm within the organisation.   In most recent high-profile corporate disasters, independent investigations have identified dysfunctional cultures as being the cause of behaviours which have cost dear in money and reputation  – and in some cases brought down the entire house of cards.

As a senior executive or Board member it is obviously impossible to know everything that is going on in your organisation – but how can you be as sure as you can that your phone hacking moment is not around the corner?  Having that confidence relies upon active management of the organisation’s culture.  Culture, like products, people, technology, brand and infrastructure, is core to what makes a business tick, and yet few businesses understand what drives it and how it is impacting on performance. Still fewer think and plan for how improving their culture will help improve performance.  Read on →

Posted August 8, 2011 by Tim Connolly. Comments (2).

Will your IT team surprise you in 2011?

It’s customary at this time of year for the media commentators to do one of two things:

  • A retrospective on what 2010 brought – the events, mishaps and surprises.
  • A look forward to 2011 – predictions and forecasts of what will take the world by storm and what, specifically, CIOs will need to be able to grapple with.

We’re well into 2011 now, so here’s our take on what we think the year has in store for senior IT executives, but with a twist.  We aren’t technologists; our focus is on what it takes to extract value from technology , and what we believe 2011 will bring is an increasingly loud and clear call for CIOs to go beyond project delivery and ‘keeping the lights on’ – into the whole arena of business value.  We see more and more evidence that senior management teams are waking up to the fact that delivering technology projects to time and budget is only part of the story.  More and more emphasis is rightly being placed on what you need to do to get value from the system long after the project team has gone away.

Will your IT team surprise you this year?

Read on →

Responding to the CSR – 3 Enable the customer

In the current climate councils are faced with the challenge of cutting cost but do want to default to cutting levels of service.

But is the process of enabling the community to do more for itself just a polite way of dressing up a service cut. At Ignite we would argue not – what is important is using the scarce resources of the council to deliver outcomes for the community.

Building the capacity of the community also needs to go hand in hand with the sensible management of expectations of what the council will do and what the community – and individuals within it – need to take responsibility for. Read on →

Responding to the CSR: 2. Engage/Engage/Engage

Eric Pickles was recently heard saying that it is all about localisation/localisation/localisation, but not necessarily in that order. Whatever your view of localisation his point was well made.

So it is with managing change.  Engage/Engage/Engage, but not necessarily in that order.

Anyone who has attempted to manage change that does not have the support of the organisation knows that it is like pushing jelly uphill.  You can’t keep it all together and any progress seems to slip through your fingers. Read on →

Responding to the CSR: 1. Be Bold – Take a Lead

It may sound perverse, but the cost challenges now facing local authorities may well present leaders with the biggest opportunity in a generation to change the face of local government. Stakeholders can see what is happening and will never be more open to fresh ideas.

 Local authorities now have an extra layer of clarity. The general consensus seems to be that at 28% the cuts are slightly less painful than the worst expectations.  What came as a nasty surprise was that the cuts are to be front loaded. Whatever the interpretation – it is time to act.

Being bold is a core value at Ignite so it is not too surprising that we encourage clients to follow the mantra. But what does it mean in practice to be bold and how do you convert the sentiment into something tangible.

We liken it to quitting your job and setting up your own business. The moment you make the decision to draw a line and part with the past is the moment when a huge burden is lifted.  Your focus immediately shifts to the design of a very different future – ideas start to flow and people around you become engaged with the creation of something special. Anyone who has done it will tell you how liberating it can be.

So it is with fundamental change.  Read on →

Posted December 4, 2010 by Mark Smith. Comments (0).

IT on the front line

Of the many facets of multi-dimensional change that senior IT professionals have spent most of their careers grappling with, one theme strikes us as more fundamental than all the rest.  It isn’t to do with increased computing power, or the internet, or the breakneck growth of wireless connectivity and mobile technology – not directly, anyway.  It’s to do with IT’s move into the front line.

For years, it has been commonplace to refer to the triumvirate of Finance, HR and IT as the ‘back office’, a label that carries connotations of activities being conducted in the murky depths of the building, kept well out of the reach of the outside world.  Increasingly, though, this description has become less and less fitting until now, it is – or should be – plain wrong.  And nowhere is this more true than in IT.

Read on →

Posted November 28, 2010 by Tim Connolly. Comments (0).

District Authorities – Responding to the CSR

Well – the news has been out a while now.  Local authorities now have an extra layer of clarity. The general consensus seems to be that at 28% the cuts are slightly less painful than the worst expectations.  What came as a nasty surprise was that the cuts are to be front loaded.

Whatever the interpretation – it is time to act. Anybody waiting for more clarity in December will find that time will run out.

So will this make a difference to the way local authorities respond? Read on →

Managing change – it's the people that matter

This is a paper that formed the basis for a presentation given by Ignite director Tim Connolly at the IBC Media Convention in Amsterdam in September 2010. 

It would be easy to start this session on a downbeat note.  If managing change around new technology and workflow were easy, we wouldn’t be talking about it this afternoon.  I could easily start with a depressing list of what often goes wrong … and I will do that in a minute, although I shall try to do it in a positive and uplifting way.  But instead let’s start with the good news.  As a race, we humans are brilliant at adapting and responding to new technology.  We do it all the time.  Look around you, look at every aspect of your life.  We travel, communicate, entertain ourselves, feed ourselves, conduct our financial affairs, wash our clothes and dishes, protect our homes, educate our children – I could go on – using technology that has at the very least been transformed many times over in our lifetime and in some cases has enabled us to do things that previous generations would only have dreamed of. Read on →

What skills do you need in your IT team?

We’ve previously written about the emergence of the technology function from the back office and how IT teams are increasingly playing their rightful role in leading and enabling new business models.  Clearly, the role of the technology function must have implications for ways of working, skills and performance measures.  But is the core capability so different, whether you are looking for process efficiencies or leading the transformation to updated or new and innovative business models?

Read on →

Outsourcing- a necessary tool for transformation?

The development of outsourcing as an option for local authority transformation is accelerating. Suffolk County Council is the most recent body to join a growing trend of local councils outsourcing the majority of their services – although the word “divestment” is being used to define a more broad based approach. This means, essentially, that the local council becomes a commissioner retaining only those elements essential to translating political direction, local needs and financial realities into the services it provisions. Read on →

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