The hedgehog, the fox and the CIO.

I was chatting* to Tony Grout yesterday and he introduced me to the Hedgehog and the Fox concept… The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one important thing. The IT Risk Management Framework is a fox thing, it is a super clever subtly complex framework for clever foxes to provide real governance and control over IT investments, change culture, and keep clever foxes happy, all at the same time. Its just tricky for CIOs who are managing “Hedgehog” organisations who can only know one important thing.

Agile is a fox strategy which attempts to wrap up decades of good practice into a single single Hedgehog term. The only problem is when you try to execute on the Agile hedgehog strategy you discover the fox strategy is hidden inside it. Even worse, you discover that no one can agree on what Agile is. Is it SAFE or LESS or the DADDY? Oh no, Its not even a fox strategy, you just unwrapped a whole skulk** of fox strategies all fighting and nipping at each other.

Instead, lets look at the IT Risk Management Framework which consists of four drivers:

  • Deliver Value
  • Sustainable Quality
  • Reduce Lead Time
  • Manage Risk

Lets consider each one at a time.

  • Deliver Value is really a business concern. If IT investments are not delivering value, the CIO can offer advise but fundamentally they are going to be politely shown the door back to the IT department ghetto if they try and take control. The business will handle this, and the CEO will own the definition of value.
  • Sustainable Quality is a must. If the products do not have sustainable quality from the customer’s perspective, the customers will leave. Once again, the business will handle this.
  • Reduce Lead Time is under the control of the CIO. By control, I mean responsible, and they can rightly be held accountable by the CEO for this key metric. Furthermore, they tend to own all the resources to address the significant parts of the value stream.
  • Manage Risk is best done by having short lead time, and with instigating a culture of transparency. So Reduce Lead Time gives you a big chunk of Manage Risk as well.

So in summary, a CIO’s hedgehog strategy is Reduce Lead Time because it gives you most of Manage Risk, and the business leadership will cover Deliver Value and Sustainable Quality. Something that Andrew Green, Al-Noor Ramji, JP Rangaswami and Lee Nicholls have been doing for years.

Merry Christmas CIOs, Reduce (Weighted) Lead Time becomes your measurable transformation strategy.

P.S. Obviously Lead Time is not an effective metric as it cannot be scaled, and hence we use Weighted Lead Time instead.

* OK, so this is mostly Tony’s stuff but I’m gonna write it down because he most likely will not.

** Who knew, the collective nouns for foxes are Leash, Skulk, Earth, Lead, Troop!

About theitriskmanager

Currently an “engineering performance coach” because “transformation” and “Agile” are now toxic. In the past, “Transformation lead”, “Agile Coach”, “Programme Manager”, “Project Manager”, “Business Analyst”, and “Developer”. Did some stuff with the Agile Community. Put the “Given” into “Given-When-Then”. Discovered “Real Options” View all posts by theitriskmanager

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