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KAMOHA Tech interviewing Renier as “Introduction to GSA Chair”

Robert Bertora, founder of KAMOHA Tech, interviews Renier Botha as an introduction to GSA’s (Global Student Accommodation) chair and executive team.

Kamoha Tech – The KAMOHA story began in 2015 servicing Global Student Accommodation (GSA), which has a wide global footprint including the UK, Ireland, Spain, Germany, UAE, Australia, Japan and China. It has grown over 10-fold in 3 years, doing so both through organic growth, (Property development & Construction of its own purpose-built student residences) and through several company acquisitions.

The GSA need was for someone to take control of their IT & Systems prior to the explosive growth they were about to undertake and that is when KAMOHA TECH founder Robert Bertora joined GSA.  The company had a need for its teams to be highly mobile and as such he implemented a ‘Pure Cloud Strategy’.  Rapidly migrated GSA away from, and off of all their traditional existing IT Data & System suppliers, and replaced these with a Cloud Infrastructure, Managed Cloud Data Services and our Remote Desktop Support Services help-desk facility. The subsequent customer satisfaction ratings doubled and our scalable model allowed for the fast and efficient taking on of new property assets, and new company / brand acquisitions in various countries.

Having a global client that has had such explosive growth, has meant that we have faced some complex and unique challenges, which have been overcome with passion, dedication and putting our customers first.

Renier and Robert know each other since 2014 where they worked together in the Global IT team of Regus, a FTSE 250 giant providing workspaces to business ventures ranging from start-up entrepreneurs to global businesses. Start-up conversations between Renier and Robert started mid 2017 and Renier joined the venture as director in May 2018, when Kamoha Tech LTD was officially registered.

 

What is Artificial Intelligence: Definitions

The term “Artificial Intelligence was first coined by John McCarthy in 1956. He is one of the “founding fathers” of artificial intelligence, together with Marvin Minsky, Allen Newell and Herbert A. Simon

Artificial Intelligence today is bathed in controversiality and hype mainly due to a misconception that is created by media. AI means different things to different people.  Some called it “cognitive computing”, others “machine intelligence”. It seems to be difficult to give a definition of what AI really is.

Different Definitions:

Wikipedia: “Artificial intelligence (AI, also machine intelligence, MI) is intelligence demonstrated by machines, in contrast to the natural intelligence (NI) displayed by humans and other animals. In computer science AI research is defined as the study of “intelligent agents“: any device that perceives its environment and takes actions that maximize its chance of successfully achieving its goals. Colloquially, the term “artificial intelligence” is applied when a machine mimics “cognitive” functions that humans associate with other human minds, such as “learning” and “problem solving”.

English Oxford Living Dictionary:  “The theory and development of computer systems able to perform tasks normally requiring human intelligence, such as visual perception, speech recognition, decision-making, and translation between languages.”

Webster: ” A branch of computer science dealing with the simulation of intelligent behavior in computers. The capability of a machine to imitate intelligent human behavior.”

Google: “The theory and development of computer systems able to perform tasks normally requiring human intelligence, such as visual perception, speech recognition, decision making, and translation between languages.”

Quartz: “Artificial intelligence is software or a computer program with a mechanism to learn. It then uses that knowledge to make a decision in a new situation, as humans do. The researchers building this software try to write code that can read images, text, video, or audio, and learn something from it. Once a machine has learned, that knowledge can be put to use elsewhere.”

Rainbird: “A computer doing a task that was previously thought would require a human.”

In my own words, keeping it simple: “AI is using computers to do things that normally would have required human intelligence.”

In other words, we might say that AI is the ability of computers/machines to use human knowledge modelled into algorithms and relational data, to learn from human reasoning and the associated conclusions/decisions, and use what has been learned to make decisions like a human would.

Thus can specialist (expensive) human knowledge be stored and processed, to make the decision making ability/application available to other non-specialist people (who do not have that specialised knowledge), empowering them to, through the use of the AI system, make a specialised decision.

Unlike humans, where specialists are numbered and constrained by human limitations, can AI-powered machines scale, don’t need to rest and they can process massively large volumes of information, can conduct tasks and make reasoning decisions at a significantly higher frequency and lower error ratio than humans, all at once!

Value!?

“Creating value”; “delivering value”; “the value proposition”; “focus on value, not cost”; “price is a reflection of value” – just a few of the statements we are using on a daily basis.

But what is value?

Value comes in different forms and types and can be different for a business, it’s shareholders, clients/customers, suppliers, employees. For example: A business might define value in recurring business and it’s loyal customers; the Board might value the increase in assets on the balance sheet; Shareholders define value in the profitability of the business that convert into dividend payments or an increase in the share price; Suppliers sees value in market penetration;  Employees perceive value in an inviting work environment, culture, recognition and benefits received from their employer.

In previous posts, we covered “how to build a compelling value proposition” and what is “your value proposition“. Value was associated with what you offer (sell) into a buying market – a product or service that addresses a specific need and is of value in a commercial world. “Remember – you define your value proposition, but it’s true value is in the eyes of the beholder – your customer.”

So you are creating value for your customers in solving a specific problem or providing to a specific need in a way that makes your product of service desirable. So when you want to describe your value, it is important to think about the customer’s need first. Being customer centric in your product or service design ensures your business is aligned to deliver to a specific customer (market) need, in a profitable way – value to the customer drives business results in revenue. Excellent customer service ensures recurring customers, customer retention means future revenue growth. Satisfied customers talk about your product and service which brings revenue growth. Thus focussing on the customer value first will lead to the other types of value, as mentioned above.

But how can you define value for your customers? Well, by simply asking if your product or service helps the customer to:

  • make their life easier or better?
  • save them time?
  • save or make them money?
  • be happier?
  • be more positive?
  • be healthy?
  • be more productive?
  • improve their effectiveness and/or efficiency?
  • achieve their goals and objectives?
  • build relationships?
  • make more friends?
  • get more customers?
  • etc…?

Place yourself in your customer’s shoes – be a customer to your own product and service. How does it make you feel? Does it help you – in what way? Use the answers to these questions to continuously improve your value.

Action: Have a look at your value chain and identify how the different processes, teams and people, add value in different ways and how these combine, to focus your value proposition onto the customer.

 

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3 positions of leadership – Leading from the front

We can learn much from horses about teamwork and leadership in business. In our workshops with horses, we share a leadership model that the horses use to create cohesive teamwork. It involves three positions of leadership and we will explore Leading from the front in more detail in this post.

Many of our clients have found this leadership model to be enlightening and have embraced and implemented it into their business with substantial success. The model is based on building relationships rather than a more traditional command and control style of leadership which does not engage and inspire employees. The success of the team is dependent on every team member taking responsibility for leadership and changing their position within the team according to what they believe is needed in each moment.

The model we use is adapted from a model developed by Klaus Ferdinand Hempfling. He observed that there are three different leadership roles in a herd of horses:

  • Leading from the front where the leader sets the pace, destination and direction
  • Leading from the side where leaders coach each other in a democratic leadership style and ensure everyone is moving forward together in the same direction
  • Leading from behind which has a check and balance style of leadership and drives the team forward to maintain momentum

Each member of the team is leading at different moments, and all are essential to the success of the team.

It might seem obvious that dragging or shoving half a ton of horse is impossible yet many employees feel as though they are on the receiving end of this behaviour in the workplace. When we work with horses, we are always working at a fine-tuning level of leadership to maximise leaders’ effectiveness so we reduce coercion and passivity and help leaders find that knife-edge of assertiveness when they are leading out of the comfort zone. Asa result, they improve their ability to flex and adapt to what is needed in any given situation and are able to inspire their teams much more easily.

In this post, I share an extract from my book Leadership Beyond Measure which explores leading from the front in more detail.

Leading from the front
The alpha mare is the most dominant member of the herd and leads from the front. Her role is to set the pace, direction and destination. Since horses are a prey animal, they are on the alert for danger. Imagine a pack of wild dogs appears, the alpha mare will decide where the herd go, how they get there and how fast they go.

If the dogs are close by, she will set off at a gallop. If they are further away, she will set off at a walk. She will go as fast as is necessary to keep the herd safe. This way, the herd conserve their energy for when it is most needed. Many people in business are going at three hundred miles per hour constantly. That is exhausting, and more balance is essential to prevent burn-out and work-related stress.

In a workplace setting, the leader of the company and each team and department usually lead from the front. For example, the MD or CEO will set the strategy and vision for a company. A Project Manager defines clear goals and objectives for his project team. A leader of a team translates the vision and goals so everyone on their team has clear expectations. Everyone at some point will need to lead from the front.

If nobody takes the lead from the front or the vision and direction are not clear enough, the team gets diverted and disperses. This can ultimately lead to conflict in the team and causes increased workload as the team become ineffective. If you’ve ever sat in a meeting and listened to a discussion go round and round without a decision, you’ve experienced what happens when nobody is leading from the front.

And if you’ve ever sat in a meeting where everyone talks over the top of each other, then you’ve experienced what happens when everyone is trying to lead from the front!

One of the challenges of leading from the front is you can get so far ahead that you lose the team. It is essential to keep checking that all team members are coming with you and understand where they are going. A common mistake in organisations is to believe that the strategy and vision have been clearly communicated when they have not. If the team is not doing what you want them to do, the destination, pace and direction need to be clearer.

When leading from the front, the focus is in the direction you are heading. If you keep turning round and looking back, you create a stop/start behaviour in your team. It indicates doubt, a lack of self-belief and self-confidence. Leading from the front requires enormous trust in yourself and the team and a belief that people will execute the strategy you have set. Be purposeful, focused, committed and clear about where you are heading or the team may stall.

In today’s business environments of rapid transformation and change, leading from the front is critical to providing the clarity and vision that employees need in order to drive the business forward.

How clear is the vision in your business and team?

Next month, I’ll explore Leading from behind and how it is critical to drive the team forward in line with the vision and pace that has been articulated.

Jude Jennison is an international speaker, author and Horse Assisted Educator with a 16 year senior leadership career in a global IT organisation, where she led UK, European and global teams.

Jude helps senior leaders and executive teams develop embodied leadership skills that create tangible business results. By receiving a horse’s non-judgemental feedback, any leader can identify their leadership behaviours and transform themselves into a courageous and hugely influential non-verbal communicator.

For more information on our leadership development programmes,
contact us on 0800 170 1810 or visit our website www.theleadershipwhisperers.com

Business Driven IT KPIs

KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) are a critical management tool to measure the success and progress of effort put in towards achieving goals and targets – to continually improve performance.

Every business set their specific KPIs to measure the criteria that drive the business success – these vary from business to business. One thing every modern business has in common though, is IT – the enabler that underpin operational processes and tools used to commerce daily. Setting KPIs that measure the success of IT operations does not just help IT leadership to continuously improve but also proof the value of IT to the business.

Here are ten IT KPIs that matter most to modern business:

  1. % of IT investment into business initiative (customer-facing services and business units)

How well does the IT strategy, reflected in the projects it is executing, align with the business strategy? This metrics can help to align IT spend with business strategy and potentially eliminate IT projects for IT that does not align directly with business objectives.

  1. % Business/Customer facing Services meeting SLAs (Service Level Agreements)

IT is delivering service to customers; these are internal to the business but can also be delivered external to the business’ client/customers directly. Are these services meeting required expectations and quality – in the eye of the customer? What can be done to improve?

  1. IT Spend vs Plan/Budget

Budgets are set for a purpose – it is a financial guideline that indicates the route to success. How is IT performing against budget, against plans? Are you over-spending against the set plans? Why? Is it because of a problem in the planning cycle or something else? If you are over-spending/under-spending, in which areas do this occur?

Knowing this metrics give you the insight to take corrective actions and bring IT spend inline with budgets.

  1. IT spend by business unit

IT service consumptione is driven by user demand. How is IT costs affected by the user demands by business unit – are business units responsible to cover their IT cost, hence owning up to the overall business efficiency. This metrics put the spotlight on the fact that IT is not free and give business unit manager visibility of their IT consumption and spend.

  1. % Split of IT investment to Run, Grow, Transform the business

This is an interesting one for the CIO. Businesses usually expects IT to spend more money in growing the business but reality is that the IT cost of running the business is driven by the demand from IT users with an increased cost implication. Business transformation, now a key topic in every board meeting, needs a dedicated budget to succeed. How do these three investment compare in comparison with business strategic priorities.

  1. Application & Service TCO (Total Cost of Ownership)

What is the real cost of delivering IT services and application. Understanding the facts behind what makes up the total cost of IT and which applications/services are the most expensive, can help to identify initiatives to improve.

  1. Infrastructure Unit Cost vs Target & Benchmarks

How do you measure the efficiency of your IT infrastructure and how does this compare with the industry benchmark? This is a powerful metrics to justify ROI (Return on Investment), IT’s value proposition, IT strategy and the associated budget.

  1. % Projects on Time, Budget & Spec

Is the project portfolio under control? Which projects need remediation to get back on track and what can be learned from projects that do run smoothly?

  1. % Project spend on customer-facing initiatives

How much is invested in IT projects in the business for the business (affecting the bottom line) in comparison with customer-centric projects that impacts the business’ top line.

10. Customer satisfaction scores for business/customer facing services

Measure the satisfaction of not just the internal business units that consume IT services but also the business’ customer’s satisfaction with customer-facing IT services. Understand what the customer wants and make the needed changes to IT operations to continuously improve customer satisfaction.

KPI vs Vision

In the famous words of Peter Drucker “What gets measured gets improved”, KPIs give you the insight to understand:

  • your customer
  • your market
  • your financial performance
  • your internal process efficiency
  • your employee performance

 Insight brings understanding that leads to actions driving continuously improve.

NED :: Non-Executive Director

Are you aware of the substantive and measurable value a Non-Executive Director can bring to you and your business…?

Introduction

The Non-Executive Director, no longer a role that is associated just with large organisations. There is a growing awareness of the NED role and more and more organisations are appointing NEDs of various types, and specific specialities, often within technology and digital transformation, to enhance the effectiveness of their boards as standard practise.

With the pressure on organisations to compete globally, deal with digital transformation and respond to rapidly changing market conditions, new skills are needed at board level. This leads to the role of the NED diversifying and introduces a need to refresh the NEDs as circumstances change, bringing in new specialities, experience and challenge when the organisation needs it.

A good NED can, and should make a substantive and measurable contribution to the effectiveness of the board. Do not see a NED as a consulting advisor – a NED, within the remit of the role of a company director, play a full and active part in the success efforts of an organisation. Irrespective of the skills, experience and network contacts that NEDs will bring, they must above all, provide appropriate independent and constructive challenge to the board.

Both the organisation and the NED must understand the purpose of being a NED, within the specific organisation, for the role to be effective. This includes a clear understanding of what value the NED is expected to bring. A NED’s value goes beyond just the statutory requirements.

On appointment a Non-executive director can:

  • Broaden the horizons and experience of existing executive directors.
  • Facilitate the cross-fertilisation of ideas, particularly in terms of business strategy and planning.
  • Have a vital part to play in appraising and commenting on a company’s investment/expenditure plans.
  • Bring wisdom, perspective, contacts and credibility to your business.
  • Be the lighthouse that helps you find your way and steer clear of near and present dangers.

The role of the NED

All directors, including NEDs, are required to:

  • provide entrepreneurial leadership of the company
  • set the company’s vision, strategy and strategic objectives
  • set the company’s values and standards
  • ensure that its obligations to its shareholders and others are understood and met.

In addition, the role of the NED has the following key elements:

  • Strategy: NEDs should constructively challenge and help develop proposals on strategy.
  • Performance: NEDs should scrutinise the performance of management in meeting agreed goals and objectives and monitor the reporting of performance.
  • Risk: NEDs should satisfy themselves on the integrity of financial information and that financial controls and systems of risk management are robust and defensible.
  • People: NEDs are responsible for determining appropriate levels of remuneration of executive directors and have a prime role in appointing, and where necessary removing, executive directors, and in succession planning.

“In broad terms, the role of the NED, under the leadership of the chairman, is: to ensure that there is an effective executive team in place; to participate actively in the decision–takingprocess of the board; and to exercise appropriate oversight over execution of the agreed strategy by the executive team.”; Walker Report, 2009

 

A non-executive director will bring the follow benefits to your company:

  • strengthen the board and provide an independent viewpoint
  • contribute to the creation of a sound business plan, policy and strategy
  • review plans and budgets that will implement policy and strategy
  • be a confidential and trusted sounding board for the MD/CEO and keep the focus of the MD/CEO
  • have the experience to objectively assess the company’s overall performance
  • have the experience and confidence to stand firm when he or she believes the executive directors are acting in an inappropriate manner
  • ensure good corporate governance
  • provide outside experience of the workings of other companies and industries, and have beneficial sector contacts and experience gained in previous businesses
  • have the ability to clearly communicate with fellow directors
  • have the ability to gain the respect of the other directors
  • possess the tact and skill to work with the executive directors, providing support and encouragement where difficult decisions are being made
  • have contacts with third parties such as financial sources, grant providers and potential clients

Looking for a NED?

Now that you understand what a NED can do – What are you waiting for?

Contact Renier Botha if you are looking for an experienced director with strong technology and digital transformation skills.

Renier has demonstrable success in developing and delivering visionary business & technology strategies. His experience include Mergers & Acquisitions (M&A), major capital projects, growth, governance, compliance, risk management as well as business and organisation development. From startup to FTSE listed enterprise, the value Renier can bring as NED is substantive, driving business growth.

Insightful Quotes on Artificial Intelligence

Artificial Intelligence (AI) today, is a practical reality. It captivated the minds of geniuses and materialised through science fiction as I grew up. During the past 70 years (post WWII) AI has evolved from a philosophical theory to a game changing emerging technology, transforming the way digital enhances value in every aspect of our daily lives.

Great minds have been challenged with the opportunities and possibilities that AI offers.  Here are some things said on the AI subject to date. Within these quotes, the conundrum in people’s minds become clear – does AI open up endless possibilities or inevitable doom?

“I believe that at the end of the century the use of words and general educated opinion will have altered so much that one will be able to speak of machines thinking without expecting to be contradicted.”; Alan Turing (1950)

“It seems probable that once the machine thinking method has started, it would not take long to outstrip our feeble powers… They would be able to converse with each other to sharpen their wits. At some stage therefore, we should have to expect the machines to take control.”; Alan Turing

“The study is to proceed on the basis of the conjecture that every aspect of learning or any other feature of intelligence can in principle be so precisely described that a machine can be made to simulate it. An attempt will be made to find how to make machines use language, form abstractions and concepts, solve kinds of problems now reserved for humans, and improve themselves.”; John McCarthy (1956)

“AI scientists tried to program computers to act like humans without first understanding what intelligence is and what it means to understand. They left out the most important part of building intelligent machines, the intelligence … before we attempt to build intelligent machines we have to first understand how the brain things, and there is nothing artificial about that.”; Jeff Hawkins

“The question of whether a computer can think is no more interesting than the question of whether a submarine can swim.”; Edsger Dijkstra

“Whether we are based on carbon or on silicon makes no fundamental difference; we should each be treated with appropriate respect.”; Arthur Clarke (2010)

“…everything that civilisation has to offer is a product of human intelligence. We cannot predict what we might achieve when this intelligence is magnified by the tools that AI may provide, but the eradication of war, disease, and poverty would be high on anyone’s list. Success in creating AI would be the biggest event in human history.”; Stephen Hawking and colleagues wrote in an article in the Independent

“Why give a robot an order to obey orders—why aren’t the original orders enough? Why command a robot not to do harm—wouldn’t it be easier never to command it to do harm in the first place? Does the universe contain a mysterious force pulling entities toward malevolence, so that a positronic brain must be programmed to withstand it? Do intelligent beings inevitably develop an attitude problem? …Now that computers really have become smarter and more powerful, the anxiety has waned. Today’s ubiquitous, networked computers have an unprecedented ability to do mischief should they ever go to the bad. But the only mayhem comes from unpredictable chaos or from human malice in the form of viruses. We no longer worry about electronic serial killers or subversive silicon cabals because we are beginning to appreciate that malevolence—like vision, motor coordination, and common sense—does not come free with computation but has to be programmed in. …Aggression, like every other part of human behavior we take for granted, is a challenging engineering problem!”; Steven Pinker – How the Mind Works

“Ask not what AI is changing, ask what AI is not changing.”; Warwick Oliver Co-Founder at hut3.ai (2018)

“Sometimes at night I worry about TAMMY. I worry that she might get tired of it all. Tired of running at sixty-six terahertz, tired of all those processing cycles, every second of every hour of every day. I worry that one of these cycles she might just halt her own subroutine and commit software suicide. And then I would have to do an error report, and I don’t know how I would even begin to explain that to Microsoft.”; Charles Yu

“As more and more artificial intelligence is entering into the world, more and more emotional intelligence must enter into leadership.”; Amit Ray

“We’ve been seeing specialized AI in every aspect of our lives, from medicine and transportation to how electricity is distributed, and it promises to create a vastly more productive and efficient economy …”; Barrack Obama

“Artificial intelligence is the future, not only for Russian, but for all of humankind. It comes with colossal opportunities, but also threats that are difficult to predict. Whoever becomes the leader in this sphere will become the ruler of the world.”; Vladimir Putin

“I think we should be very careful about artificial intelligence. If I had to guess at what our biggest existential threat is, I’d probably say that. So we need to be very careful.”; Elon Musk

“Whenever I hear people saying AI is going to hurt people in the future I think, yeah, technology can generally always be used for good and bad and you need to be careful about how you build it … if you’re arguing against AI then you’re arguing against safer cars that aren’t going to have accidents, and you’re arguing against being able to better diagnose people when they’re sick.”; Mark Zuckerberg

“Most of human and animal learning is unsupervised learning. If intelligence was a cake, unsupervised learning would be the cake, supervised learning would be the icing on the cake, and reinforcement learning would be the cherry on the cake. We know how to make the icing and the cherry, but we don’t know how to make the cake. We need to solve the unsupervised learning problem before we can even think of getting to true AI.”; Yan Lecun

“Artificial intelligence would be the ultimate version of Google. The ultimate search engine that would understand everything on the web. It would understand exactly what you wanted and it would give you the right thing. We’re nowhere near doing that now. However, we can get incrementally closer to that, and that is basically what we’re working on.”; Larry Page,  Co-Founder at Google (2000)

If you had all of the world’s information directly attached to your brain, or an artificial brain that was smarter than your brain, you’d be better off.” – Sergey Brin Co-Founder at Goolgle (2004)

 

 

 

What is P3M3

Maturity models are tools that can benchmark current performance against best practise. It provides valuable information on the current status of operations and point out areas for improvement that could increase the operational effectiveness, not just from a processes perspective but also the involved people, the tools used and the interaction of different disciplines within an organisation.

P3M3 is a management maturity model looking across an organization at how it delivers its projects, programmes and portfolio. P3M3 is unique in that it considers the whole system and not just at the processes.

P3M3 provides three maturity models that can be used separately to focus on specific areas of the business, or more generally to help the organization assess the relationships between their portfolios, programmes and projects.

The three P3M3 maturity models are:

  • Portfolio Management
  • Programme Management
  • Project Management

Structure

Each sub-model is further broken down into seven perspectives:

  • Organizational governance
  • Management control
  • Benefits management
  • Risk management
  • Stakeholder management
  • Finance management
  • Resource management

The P3M3 model has five maturity levels:

  • Level 1: Awareness
  • Level 2: Repeatable
  • Level 3: Defined
  • Level 4: Managed
  • Level 5: Optimized

P3M3 allows an assessment of the process employed, the competencies of people, the tools deployed and the management information used to manage and deliver improvements. This allows organizations to determine their strengths and weaknesses in delivering change.

There are no interdependencies between the models so an assessment may be against one, two or all of the sub-models. It is possible for an organization to be better at programme management than it is at project management.

Benefits

Through baselining an organization’s performance it is possible to identify areas where an organization can most effectively increase its project, programme and portfolio capability. Therefore the sort of benefits expected from using P3M3 to develop and implement an improvement plan would be:

  • Cost savings
    • On delivering project outputs and programme outcomes
    • Integrate processes across an organization
    • More effective use of budgets
  • Improved benefits delivery
  • Improved quality of delivered projects and programmes
  • Improved customer satisfaction
  • Increase return on investment
  • Providing plans for continual progression
  • Recognizing achievements from previous investment in capability improvement
  • Focusing on the organization’s maturity, not specific initiatives (you can run good programmes and projects without having high levels of maturity – but not consistently).

 

DevOps: An Immersive Simulation

It’s 8:15 am on Thursday 5th April and I’m on the 360 bus to Imperial College, London. No — I’ve not decided to go back to college, I am attending a DevOps (a software engineering culture and practice that aims at unifying software development and software operation) simulation day being run by the fabulous guys from G2G3.

I’ve known the G2G3 team for several years now, having been on my very first ITSM (IT Service Management) simulation way back in 2010 when I worked for the NHS in Norfolk and I can honestly say that that first simulation blew me away! In fact, I was so impressed with that I have helped deliver almost 25 ITSM sims since that day, in partnership with G2G3.

Having worked with ITIL (IT Infrastructure Library) based operations teams for most of my career, I remember when DevOps first became “a thing”. I was sharing an office with the Application Manager at the time and I can honestly say that it seemed a very chaotic way of justifying throwing fixes/enhancements into a live service. This really conflicted with my traditional ITSM beliefs that you should try to stop fires happening in the first place, so as you can imagine, we had some lively conversations in the office.

Since then, DevOps has grown into the significant, best practice approach that it is today. DevOps has found its place alongside service management best practice, allowing the two to complement each other.

Anyway, back to the 360 bus — let me tell you a bit about the day…

On arrival, I met with Jaro and Chris from G2G3 who were leading the day. The participants consisted of a variety of people from different backgrounds, some trainers, some practitioners, but all with a shared interest in DevOps. Big shout out as well to the guys who came all the way from Brazil!!! Shows how good these sessions are!

The day kicked off with us taking our places at the tables that are scattered around the room as we are given an explanation of how the sim works. I do not want to go into detail about what happens over the day, as you really need to approach these sessions with an open mind, rather than know the answers. What I can tell you is that the rest of the day consisted of rounds of activity, with each one followed by opportunities for learning and improving and planning. There are times when you find yourself doing something you would never normally do, amidst the chaos of the first round. This was summed up by my colleague, another service management professional, who had to admit that they “put it in untested”, much to the enjoyment of the rest of the room!

The day itself went by in a blur! People who you met at the beginning of the day, are now old friends that you go down the pub with at the end of the day! These new-found friends are also a fantastic pot of knowledge, with everyone able to share ideas and approaches.

The day was a rollercoaster of emotions — At the beginning of the day, I was apprehensive about whether I had enough knowledge of DevOps. Apprehension quickly changed to a general feeling of frustration and confusion through round one, as I tried to use my Tetris knowledge to develop products! I finished the day with a real sense of satisfaction — I had held my own and the whole team had been successful in developing products and delivering a profit for the business. There were some light-bulb moments for me along the way, in particular around needing to make sure that any developments should integrate with each other and also meet the user acceptance criteria. I also realised that DevOps is more structured than I thought with checkpoints along the way to ensure success. The unique way in which simulations are delivered serves to immerse people in a subject whilst encouraging them to change behaviours through self-discovery.

I have always received very good feedback for ITSM simulations, and I can see that the DevOps simulation will prove to be as successful.

Several of us also returned to Imperial College the next day to attend the Train the Trainer session for the DevOps simulation. This means that we can now offer tailored simulations either as an individual session or as part of a wider programme of change.

Simulations are always difficult to explain, without giving away the content of the day, but if you would like to find out more, please contact me onsandra.lewis@bedifrent.com


Written by Sandra Lewis — Difrent Service Mannagement Lead
@sandraattp | sandra.lewis@bedifrent.com | +44(0) 1753 752 220

5 Whys

5 Whys” technique for Root Cause Analysis (RCA)

Do you have a recurring problem that keeps on coming back despite repeated actions to address it? This might be an indication that you are treating the symptoms of the problem and not the actual problem itself – you need to determine the root cause of the problem – you must conduct a root cause analysis.

Root cause analysis (RCA) is a systematic process for identifying “root causes” of problems and the appropriate response that effectively deals with it. RCA is based on the basic idea that effective management requires more than merely “putting out fires” through quick fixes for problems that develop, but finding a way to prevent them from occurring again or in the first place. A root cause analysis is a process used to identify the primary source of a problem.

An effective method to get to the bottom of a problem is to use the “5 Whys” that was initially developed as part of TPS (Toyota Production System) that gave birth to what we know today as Lean Six Sigma – discussed in more detail in the article on “Lean Six Sigma – Organisational Development and Change”.

5 Whys is an iterative interrogative (problem solving) technique used to explore the cause-and-effect relationships underlying a particular problem.

The primary goal of the technique is to determine the root cause (source) of a defect or problem by repeating the question “Why?”, five times. Each answer forms the basis of the next question.

Why five time? This derives from an anecdotal observation on the number of iterations needed to resolve the problem.

How to conduct the 5 Why technique:

  1. Write down the specific problem. Writing the issue helps you formalize the problem and describe it completely. It also helps a team focus on the same problem.
  2. Ask Why the problem happens and write the answer down below the problem.
  3. If the answer you just provided doesn’t identify the root cause of the problem that you wrote down in Step 1, ask Why again and write that answer down.
  4. Loop back to step 3 until the team is in agreement that the problem’s root cause is identified. Again, this may take fewer or more times than five Whys.

For example:

5Whys - RCA

In business, only one cause for a problem is not the usual case. Using the 5 Whys in conjunction with the Fishbone Diagram (Ishikawa), that helps the exploration process to cover all potential inputs and hence potential causes of problems or defects.

fishbone-diag3

 The 5 Whys method can be used to uncover multiple root causes by repeating the process asking a different sequence of questions each time.