Opinion: Continuous improvement demands keeping change under control.
Management guru Tom Peters is almost three times as well-known
for his 1982 book (with Robert Waterman), In Search of Excellence, as he
is for his 1987 work Thriving on Chaos. (I make that
statement based on the number of Google hits for the combination of the
authors name with each of those book titles.) Thats a troubling
statistic because Peters himself acknowledged in the latter book that
it comes close to being an apology for the errors of the former. "There
are no excellent companies," Peters conceded as the first sentence of Chaos. Paradoxically, he said,
"Excellent firms dont believe in excellenceonly in constant
improvement and constant change."
Tom Peters epiphany on the subject of change came to mind when I
got a preview of this weeks announcement from Solidcore Systems regarding
the companys launch of its real-time change management tool called S3 Control.
The companys trying to move beyond the mere restriction or audit of
change to provide much more of a policy-driven environment for change,
one that recognizes the need for different participants to have
different roles in varying situations.
This is something more than the sum of the parts of existing tools,
asserted Solidcore VP Rix Kramlich when we spoke late last week. For
example, he said, "access control is not change control because it only
controls the who and the what: Its disconnected from the process."
Systems managers need to know what has actually happened, he said, not
what was supposed to happen. They need real-time knowledge, they need
to be able to search and document change, they need accountability for
who has done what, they need enforceability to assure that changes
conform to policies. "Its who, what, when and how: whos authorized
to make changes, what theyre authorized to change, when and under what
controls theyre authorized to make those changes," he said.
Kramlich made the key point that "change is powerful," echoing Tom
Peters 2-decade-old admonition in the preface to Thriving on Chaos that "the winners
of tomorrow will deal proactively
with chaos, will look at the chaos per se as the source of market
advantage, not as a problem to be got around." (Emphasis in the
original) Too often, it seems to me that IT managers are seeing the
solution to their problems as chaos containment rather than chaos
exploitation. Thats an understandable bias: Technical objectives are
more often fostered by limiting change than by loving it.
As IT managers aspire to a seat at the head table, though, theyll
do well to step up to the challenge of making IT as eager and able as
any other part of the enterprise to exploit rapidly emerging
opportunitiesperhaps, even, to take the lead in identifying them as
Tell me what youre creating out of chaos at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Peter Coffee is Director of Platform Research at salesforce.com, where he serves as a liaison with the developer community to define the opportunity and clarify developers' technical requirements on the company's evolving Apex Platform. Peter previously spent 18 years with eWEEK (formerly PC Week), the national news magazine of enterprise technology practice, where he reviewed software development tools and methods and wrote regular columns on emerging technologies and professional community issues.Before he began writing full-time in 1989, Peter spent eleven years in technical and management positions at Exxon and The Aerospace Corporation, including management of the latter company's first desktop computing planning team and applied research in applications of artificial intelligence techniques. He holds an engineering degree from MIT and an MBA from Pepperdine University, he has held teaching appointments in computer science, business analytics and information systems management at Pepperdine, UCLA, and Chapman College.