Not everything is always sweetness and light. Is it ever? We had our ICT Customer Board meeting last week and had an interesting conversation about culture. Words and phrases such as Camp Tanfield or Camp Meadowfield were raised with the clear implication that we reside within our functions and that visibility of managers and team members at other sites was poor. The group felt that they were not being helped to work in a more agile fashion. Indeed agile was often used as a pejorative. We need to be showing that good practice is being practiced.
Issues between teams will always raise their heads. It is part of human nature. To belong to one team you have to not belong to another and the easiest way of making this happen is by highlighting the differences between you and them. We invest a lot of time in building teams. We form and norm but don’t always storm yet there comes a point where we need to draw a line in the sand and agree a way forward.
People issues within and across teams are very real. Some seem strange, some seem illogical but they are very real. As long as we believe that there are issues to be resolved then they will continue to exist. Yet team involvement is an absolutely vital part of our plans for future success. That is why we continue to invest time and effort in improving them.
I’ve described many times what I want for the service but perhaps I need to articulate this better in terms of the management team. Let me once again learn from Patty McManus and start with what I don’t want:
A war zone where you have to watch your back and where factions form and manoeuvring goes on behind closed doors.
I don’t want a love zone either where tough issues are avoided in the interest of maintaining good feelings.
Nor do I want an ‘unteam’ with little or no shared perspective on the broader organization and where everyone does their own thing.
We need to think of ICT Services as an ecosystem with one common set of objective and values. An ecosystem where leadership and management work hand in hand to deliver the required outcomes by evaluating options based on data knowledge to find places of agreement. An ecosystem where we use conflicting opinions as opportunities to work with rather than fights to win and where communications are used to share information and increase understanding rather than to divide and spread gossip. I want one set of priorities, one set of objectives and one ICT team.
Working with people is hard, we’re all different, we’re all complicated. Some people like to know, I like to feel. Some people like clarity, others prefer wriggle room. The key thing is that we all need to get to know each other better and this is probably at the root of everything we need to talk about.
There are some immediate things that I need to address: We need to have a meeting structure that is effective in improving communication and decision making; Silos and empires need to be broken down; We need to articulate the difference between the various team are and; The Senior Leadership Team needs to modify its language.
There’s always plenty to get on with.