As you may recall, one of my first entries on this blog – way back on January 31 – was about change management. It was there that I introduced the “It’s Been X days since our last self-inflicted outage” ticker. At the time, we were sitting at 19 days without an incident and from there we were able to extend that counter for another 15, almost 16 days. Unfortunately, around February 15 we had to reset that counter due to some missteps in executing a series of SAN migrations and some missteps in communicating the impact and subsequent resolution to the impacted parties. In short we failed to follow through on two of the five change management steps established at the beginning of the year, we did not execute flawlessly and we did not provide timely communication after the change.
For those of you that missed that early on entry or if you just have a hard time remembering things you have read in the past 90 days, here are those five simple steps again:
Plan – make sure each change action/project we undertake is well thought out, steps are documented, risks are assessed. If disruption in service is expected, plan for when we make this change to limit the impact of the disruption.
Communicate – communicate each change action/project to the parties potentially impacted prior to executing the change
Execute – flawlessly execute according the plan developed
Test - test to make sure that the change executed resulted in the expected results and there are no unintended consequences from the change
Communicate – communicate to the potentially impacted parties that the change has been completed and tested
It seems so simple – just five little things to do for each change. While we still have a ways to go, we are doing a much better job of managing and executing changes. I have seen and heard much more discussions within the IT teams about potential impacts of proposed changes and much more thought around the best time to execute the change and who/what to communicate about the change. In addition, the execution of the recent changes we have made has been flawless. Since February 15th, we have been on a pretty good roll and are going on 45 days without one of those dreaded self-inflicted outages and the painful clock reset that goes along with it. I am not sure how much longer we will go without an incident, but I am happy with the improvement I have seen in how everyone on the team approaches changes. The planning, the communication and most importantly the execution is the best I have seen in years.
As part of our continued focus in this area, I wanted to do something fun to reinforce the idea of “No Slam Dunks in IT” that I reintroduced to the team in January. Since I am a basketball junkie and it is that time of year when many of “mad” for college hoops, I decided what would be better than sending each person in IT a basketball emblazoned with our company logo AND our “No Slam Dunks in IT” logo. So last week, IT staff around the globe received a little gift to help drive home the focus on change management.
Now I hadn’t budgeted for buying and sending out basketballs to 100 or so people, so I might get a question or two from our CFO who just happens to be my boss as well. But, if it helps drive home the ideas we have been pushing for the past 90 days and it results in avoiding even one self-inflicted outage then the payback on this little “fun expense” will be huge.
Oh and since I am a hoops junkie, I will leave you with my prediction for tonight’s national title game: Kansas 74 – Kentucky 71. What can I say? I am a Big XII-II homer. Rock Chalk Jayhawk!!!!
Post game update: so much for my hoops prediction. But I think I am still right on about change management.