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Let's Collaborate!

Thanks for visiting my website, and please let me know if you’d like to get in touch. I’m available for conversation, consulting, training sessions, speaking engagements, panel discussions, or just connecting for the future. 

You can reach me at:

Zachary Kelly
consulting@envizium.com
240-479-8117

Let's Collaborate!

Thanks for visiting my website, and please let me know if you’d like to get in touch. I’m available for conversation, consulting, training sessions, speaking engagements, panel discussions, or just connecting for the future. 

You can reach me at:

Zachary Kelly
consulting@envizium.com
240-479-8117

An Interview with Zachary Kelly - Founder, Envizium

Q: What kinds of consulting do you offer?

A: Organizations will get the most value from me in three areas:

IT Governance. This is all about what structures, processes, and tools are needed to effectively manage an IT enterprise. It starts with having an IT Governance Policy that outlines governance areas, quantitative and qualitative governance targets, and the “who,” “how,” and “when” needed to manage all governance areas to their targets.

IT Solutions Engineering. Often organizations know they have a need, and know what technologies can meet the need, but need assistance in building a specific plan, roadmap, or set of steps to achieve their goals. This may touch any aspect of enterprise technology, including cloud, server, virtualization, storage, database, application development, analytics, networking, security, and other areas. A few specific areas and key questions that I frequently consult on include:

  • Migration to Cloud. How do we get ready? How do we migrate? What problems will arise? What are the costs involved, and how do we manage costs? How do we manage risk? What does an effective migration plan and roadmap look like? How will operations change after migration?
  • Automation. What automations are possible to make my organization more efficient? What tools or techniques do we need to deploy automation? How does our team need to change to support automation? How do we create a long-term, cost-effective roadmap toward strong automation? How can analytics and machine learning increase automation? Would AI be a good choice for automation?
  • Analytics and Machine Learning. What analytics and machine learning techniques can we deploy to serve our mission? How do we right-size costs so the analytics and machine learning results are worth the investment? How do we build an analytics platform in AWS or Azure? How do we build the right team to manage the platform? What self-service options are possible for business users?

IT Operations Optimization. On one hand, IT operations is a well-known space with may strong best-practice approaches available. On the other, many IT operations teams function inefficiently, and struggle to meet customer service and technology SLAs and KPIs. How do we become more efficient as a customer service and operations organization? What training, coaching, or other team changes do we need? Do we have the right tools? Do we have the right processes? How do we adopt ITIL, CMMI, Agile, or other frameworks so we get the most benefit without incurring a large administrative overhead burden?

Q: What is your background in enterprise IT?

A: I started as a technical writer. My first job was with Lockheed-Martin in Orlando, Florida, writing a sales presentation for a major component of the Apache attack helicopter. After several other short-term technical writing gigs with companies like AT&T, FiTech, and Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center, I realized the tech writer is always the first guy to get laid off. 

I sat down and decided I wanted three things from my job: 1) Respect resulting in stability; 2) Good pay; and 3) The ability to work anywhere in the world. The obvious answer was “Programmer,” so I did some research and decide this thing called “Java” had a pretty good future. I borrowed $12k, bought a computer and a bunch of books, and went to my uncle’s house in Arizona for three months to study. 

After that, Richard Stroud with N-Tier Solutions gave me my first opportunity as a junior programmer, for which I’ll always be grateful. From there I developed quickly as a programmer, software architect, and technical team lead. I ended up leading development of a major piece of international software for an AIG company, which resulted in a move to the business side where I managed business and IT operations for an AIG company international group. 

That led me to a two-year stint in Hong Kong with AIG, after which I got the entrepreneurial bug and launched a software development startup in rural Russia. That was a truly great experience, but I learned the hard way: Don’t open a business in rural Russia, dummy! 

I returned to the U.S. and for the past ten years have worked primarily in the Federal space, managing multiple large-scale IT enterprises, developing enterprise IT solutions, building teams, selling work, and learning how to innovate in the highly constrained context of Federal contracting. 

Q: What are some of the more challenging scenarios you’ve encountered?

A: Probably the toughest challenge is building consensus for major IT initiatives. Any time an IT project spans departments, functions, or people groups, or attempts to provide an organizational service, it’s important to listen to input from across everyone involved. 

Larger initiatives are often weakened or even fail if there isn’t solid buy-in from the beginning. So, it’s critical to start with a lot of listening, then help shape both the project and stakeholder attitudes so a tight project approach emerges. Too often one of these extremes arises: Either one or more important groups are excluded because their input “doesn’t fit,” or the project itself is weakened by trying to accommodate everybody’s specific desire.

Another challenge, frankly, is working with IT people who are so entrenched in the technology that they’re unable to align technology solutions with business reality. It’s a healthy tension in some ways – IT experts push toward best practice and excellent solutions, while the business needs to be pragmatic, move quickly, and contain costs. I actually believe these are not mutually exclusive goals, which is why I’m writing the book, Occam’s Datacenter, but it can be difficult to bring everyone to a middle ground.  

Q: Why the philosophy “Simple is Better”?

A: Across my twenty plus years of enterprise IT experience, I’ve watched the same theme play out over and over:

  • IT systems are needed to support business requirements.
  • IT systems are greatly over-designed for the actual requirements.
  • Projects run over time and/or budget.
  • Operations costs are higher than expected.

As a result, I’ve come to favor driving simplicity at every possible point. While business people usually immediately see the value here, you’d be surprised how hard it can be to get IT people to agree with this approach! 

The usual objections are that I’ll ignore certain requirements or solve an immediate problem with no regard for the future. But that’s not the case at all. Successful IT design meets requirements, including expected future needs, using the smallest, simplest possible technology footprint.

Q: You have an academic background in philosophy. How has that affected your work in IT?

A: Philosophy is one of the most misunderstood academic disciplines taught today. Most people either confuse philosophy with psychology, or think philosophy is a highly speculative, almost romantic approach to asking big questions and experiencing awe as an answer. 

But the reality couldn’t be further from that: Academic philosophy is a highly structured, rigorous set of methodologies for building solutions to large scale thought problems and testing those solutions for logical rigor. 

I learned this the hard way from Professor Richard Cross at Oxford University. He’s one of the foremost living logicians in the world today, and he generously granted me an independent tutorial at Oxford in the summer of 1996. I studied the concept of medieval universals with him, and every week received from him an amazing lesson in structure, disciplined thinking, research, and above all, rigor. 

When I moved into IT, I was amazed to discover it was all based on the philosophy I’d studied. Programming and large-scale solutions architecture in particular are straight out of philosophical methods. By applying philosophical concepts to IT paradigms, I was able to think critically about IT and team development, rather than falling into the common trap of getting hung up by the established IT way of doing things.      

Q: How do CIOs get beyond their pain points?

A: Great question. If I had an easy answer, I’d already be retired on a thousand acres in Montana! Seriously, though, there are some key factors that greatly reduce the pain and cause the CIO’s mission to become successful:

First, build the right team. 

In my experience, most of the perceived problems simply go away when you align your team to the mission. So, this means you must have a mission and be able to express it, and you must build an organization chart that supports the mission. Then, there’s the hard work of training, repositioning, hiring, and unfortunately, firing, to get the workforce aligned. I’ve found there’s no substitute for this. An aligned workforce is energized and capable of self-motivation because every employee really counts, really matters, and has clear responsibility. A misaligned workforce perpetuates organizational issues, no matter how much training, process, or force is used to fix the problems.

Second, do less, and do it better. 

IT has an inherent sprawl problem such that the scope of work tends to perpetually increase until it overwhelms available resources. I fully recognize there are many critical and complex tasks that must be done to build, operate, and improve an IT enterprise. So, I’m not saying ignore critical tasks. I’m saying that all task areas and tasks must be identified, aligned to the mission, and prioritized. If a task isn’t required to support the business or doesn’t have a tangible benefit in terms of cost or efficiency, it should be prioritized lower.

Finally, have a realistic roadmap. 

The purpose of the roadmap is to continuously move toward greater alignment of IT and business, improved operations and engineering efficiency, and reduced costs. Think of the roadmap as the task list and priorities extended out in time. This provides transparency for everyone involved so people know what to expect, and IT progresses predictably and under clear management.

Q: Tell us about your book project, The CIO’s Handbook.

A: Today, there’s no single book or manual that teaches real-world approaches to managing the full enterprise IT organization. Many books exist on key areas, but there’s a real need for a resource that pulls it all together into a coherent, effective, risk-based approach.   I’ve seen the need for a book like this for years, and finally decided to put it out there.

Q: Tell us about your book project, Consulting Superpowers.

A: Consulting Superpowers is a fun book for me. For years I’ve helped clients and employees understand IT and business situations, and this book encompasses many of the specific techniques I’ve learned to really cut through the noise and clearly show the problem, the analysis, the options, the recommendation, and the path forward. I’m a very visual thinker, so this book talks a lot about how to effectively use charts, graphs, data, and whiteboard sessions.

Q: Tell us about your book project, Occam’s Datacenter.

A: The sad fact is, enterprise IT rarely fulfills its promises. We have amazing technology and a deep understanding of how to support business with IT systems. And yet, most large projects fail to meet their goals, cost more than intended, take longer than expected, and prove more difficult than expected to maintain after deployment. 

I’ve come to believe this is due to the known phenomenon of human Complexity Bias – our preference for complex solutions versus simple solutions – and that we unintentionally sabotage major projects by making them unnecessarily complex. 

This book unpacks Complexity Bias, shows how it plays out in real-world scenarios, and suggests an approach to enterprise IT solution design, deployment, and operations that focuses on simplicity and alignment with the business.

An Interview with Zachary Kelly - Founder, Envizium

Q: What kinds of consulting do you offer?

A: Organizations will get the most value from me in three areas:

FFIT Governance. This is all about what structures, pFFrocesses, and tools are needed to effectively manage an IT enterprise. It starts with having an IT Governance Policy that outlines governance areas, quantitative and qualitative governance targets, and the “who,” “how,” and “when” needed to manage all governance areas to their targets.

IT Solutions Engineering. Often organizations know they have a need, and know what technologies can meet the need, but need assistance in building a specific plan, roadmap, or set of steps to achieve their goals. This may touch any aspect of enterprise technology, including cloud, server, virtualization, storage, database, application development, analytics, networking, security, and other areas. A few specific areas and key questions that I frequently consult on include:

  • Migration to Cloud. How do we get ready? How do we migrate? What problems will arise? What are the costs involved, and how do we manage costs? How do we manage risk? What does an effective migration plan and roadmap look like? How will operations change after migration?
  • Automation. What automations are possible to make my organization more efficient? What tools or techniques do we need to deploy automation? How does our team need to change to support automation? How do we create a long-term, cost-effective roadmap toward strong automation? How can analytics and machine learning increase automation? Would AI be a good choice for automation?
  • Analytics and Machine Learning. What analytics and machine learning techniques can we deploy to serve our mission? How do we right-size costs so the analytics and machine learning results are worth the investment? How do we build an analytics platform in AWS or Azure? How do we build the right team to manage the platform? What self-service options are possible for business users?

IT Operations Optimization. On one hand, IT operations is a well-known space with may strong best-practice approaches available. On the other, many IT operations teams function inefficiently, and struggle to meet customer service and technology SLAs and KPIs. How do we become more efficient as a customer service and operations organization? What training, coaching, or other team changes do we need? Do we have the right tools? Do we have the right processes? How do we adopt ITIL, CMMI, Agile, or other frameworks so we get the most benefit without incurring a large administrative overhead burden?

Q: What is your background in enterprise IT?

A: I started as a technical writer. My first job was with Lockheed-Martin in Orlando, Florida, writing a sales presentation for a major component of the Apache attack helicopter. After several other short-term technical writing gigs with companies like AT&T, FiTech, and Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center, I realized the tech writer is always the first guy to get laid off. 

I sat down and decided I wanted three things from my job: 1) Respect resulting in stability; 2) Good pay; and 3) The ability to work anywhere in the world. The obvious answer was “Programmer,” so I did some research and decide this thing called “Java” had a pretty good future. I borrowed $12k, bought a computer and a bunch of books, and went to my uncle’s house in Arizona for three months to study. 

After that, Richard Stroud with N-Tier Solutions gave me my first opportunity as a junior programmer, for which I’ll always be grateful. From there I developed quickly as a programmer, software architect, and technical team lead. I ended up leading development of a major piece of international software for an AIG company, which resulted in a move to the business side where I managed business and IT operations for an AIG company international group. 

That led me to a two-year stint in Hong Kong with AIG, after which I got the entrepreneurial bug and launched a software development startup in rural Russia. That was a truly great experience, but I learned the hard way: Don’t open a business in rural Russia, dummy! 

I returned to the U.S. and for the past ten years have worked primarily in the Federal space, managing multiple large-scale IT enterprises, developing enterprise IT solutions, building teams, selling work, and learning how to innovate in the highly constrained context of Federal contracting. 

Q: What are some of the more challenging scenarios you’ve encountered?

A: Probably the toughest challenge is building consensus for major IT initiatives. Any time an IT project spans departments, functions, or people groups, or attempts to provide an organizational service, it’s important to listen to input from across everyone involved. 

Larger initiatives are often weakened or even fail if there isn’t solid buy-in from the beginning. So, it’s critical to start with a lot of listening, then help shape both the project and stakeholder attitudes so a tight project approach emerges. Too often one of these extremes arises: Either one or more important groups are excluded because their input “doesn’t fit,” or the project itself is weakened by trying to accommodate everybody’s specific desire.

Another challenge, frankly, is working with IT people who are so entrenched in the technology that they’re unable to align technology solutions with business reality. It’s a healthy tension in some ways – IT experts push toward best practice and excellent solutions, while the business needs to be pragmatic, move quickly, and contain costs. I actually believe these are not mutually exclusive goals, which is why I’m writing the book, Occam’s Datacenter, but it can be difficult to bring everyone to a middle ground.  

Q: Why the philosophy “Simple is Better”?

A: Across my twenty plus years of enterprise IT experience, I’ve watched the same theme play out over and over:

  • IT systems are needed to support business requirements.
  • IT systems are greatly over-designed for the actual requirements.
  • Projects run over time and/or budget.
  • Operations costs are higher than expected.

As a result, I’ve come to favor driving simplicity at every possible point. While business people usually immediately see the value here, you’d be surprised how hard it can be to get IT people to agree with this approach! 

The usual objections are that I’ll ignore certain requirements or solve an immediate problem with no regard for the future. But that’s not the case at all. Successful IT design meets requirements, including expected future needs, using the smallest, simplest possible technology footprint.

Q: You have an academic background in philosophy. How has that affected your work in IT?

A: Philosophy is one of the most misunderstood academic disciplines taught today. Most people either confuse philosophy with psychology, or think philosophy is a highly speculative, almost romantic approach to asking big questions and experiencing awe as an answer. 

But the reality couldn’t be further from that: Academic philosophy is a highly structured, rigorous set of methodologies for building solutions to large scale thought problems and testing those solutions for logical rigor. 

I learned this the hard way from Professor Richard Cross at Oxford University. He’s one of the foremost living logicians in the world today, and he generously granted me an independent tutorial at Oxford in the summer of 1996. I studied the concept of medieval universals with him, and every week received from him an amazing lesson in structure, disciplined thinking, research, and above all, rigor. 

When I moved into IT, I was amazed to discover it was all based on the philosophy I’d studied. Programming and large-scale solutions architecture in particular are straight out of philosophical methods. By applying philosophical concepts to IT paradigms, I was able to think critically about IT and team development, rather than falling into the common trap of getting hung up by the established IT way of doing things.      

Q: How do CIOs get beyond their pain points?

A: Great question. If I had an easy answer, I’d already be retired on a thousand acres in Montana! Seriously, though, there are some key factors that greatly reduce the pain and cause the CIO’s mission to become successful:

First, build the right team. 

In my experience, most of the perceived problems simply go away when you align your team to the mission. So, this means you must have a mission and be able to express it, and you must build an organization chart that supports the mission. Then, there’s the hard work of training, repositioning, hiring, and unfortunately, firing, to get the workforce aligned. I’ve found there’s no substitute for this. An aligned workforce is energized and capable of self-motivation because every employee really counts, really matters, and has clear responsibility. A misaligned workforce perpetuates organizational issues, no matter how much training, process, or force is used to fix the problems.

Second, do less, and do it better. 

IT has an inherent sprawl problem such that the scope of work tends to perpetually increase until it overwhelms available resources. I fully recognize there are many critical and complex tasks that must be done to build, operate, and improve an IT enterprise. So, I’m not saying ignore critical tasks. I’m saying that all task areas and tasks must be identified, aligned to the mission, and prioritized. If a task isn’t required to support the business or doesn’t have a tangible benefit in terms of cost or efficiency, it should be prioritized lower.

Finally, have a realistic roadmap. 

The purpose of the roadmap is to continuously move toward greater alignment of IT and business, improved operations and engineering efficiency, and reduced costs. Think of the roadmap as the task list and priorities extended out in time. This provides transparency for everyone involved so people know what to expect, and IT progresses predictably and under clear management.

Q: Tell us about your book project, The CIO’s Handbook.

A: Today, there’s no single book or manual that teaches real-world approaches to managing the full enterprise IT organization. Many books exist on key areas, but there’s a real need for a resource that pulls it all together into a coherent, effective, risk-based approach.   I’ve seen the need for a book like this for years, and finally decided to put it out there.

Q: Tell us about your book project, Consulting Superpowers.

A: Consulting Superpowers is a fun book for me. For years I’ve helped clients and employees understand IT and business situations, and this book encompasses many of the specific techniques I’ve learned to really cut through the noise and clearly show the problem, the analysis, the options, the recommendation, and the path forward. I’m a very visual thinker, so this book talks a lot about how to effectively use charts, graphs, data, and whiteboard sessions.

Q: Tell us about your book project, Occam’s Datacenter.

A: The sad fact is, enterprise IT rarely fulfills its promises. We have amazing technology and a deep understanding of how to support business with IT systems. And yet, most large projects fail to meet their goals, cost more than intended, take longer than expected, and prove more difficult than expected to maintain after deployment. 

I’ve come to believe this is due to the known phenomenon of human Complexity Bias – our preference for complex solutions versus simple solutions – and that we unintentionally sabotage major projects by making them unnecessarily complex. 

This book unpacks Complexity Bias, shows how it plays out in real-world scenarios, and suggests an approach to enterprise IT solution design, deployment, and operations that focuses on simplicity and alignment with the business.

An Interview with Zachary Kelly - Founder, Envizium

Q: What kinds of consulting do you offer?

A: Organizations will get the most value from me in three areas:

FFIT Governance. This is all about what structures, pFFrocesses, and tools are needed to effectively manage an IT enterprise. It starts with having an IT Governance Policy that outlines governance areas, quantitative and qualitative governance targets, and the “who,” “how,” and “when” needed to manage all governance areas to their targets.

IT Solutions Engineering. Often organizations know they have a need, and know what technologies can meet the need, but need assistance in building a specific plan, roadmap, or set of steps to achieve their goals. This may touch any aspect of enterprise technology, including cloud, server, virtualization, storage, database, application development, analytics, networking, security, and other areas. A few specific areas and key questions that I frequently consult on include:

  • Migration to Cloud. How do we get ready? How do we migrate? What problems will arise? What are the costs involved, and how do we manage costs? How do we manage risk? What does an effective migration plan and roadmap look like? How will operations change after migration?
  • Automation. What automations are possible to make my organization more efficient? What tools or techniques do we need to deploy automation? How does our team need to change to support automation? How do we create a long-term, cost-effective roadmap toward strong automation? How can analytics and machine learning increase automation? Would AI be a good choice for automation?
  • Analytics and Machine Learning. What analytics and machine learning techniques can we deploy to serve our mission? How do we right-size costs so the analytics and machine learning results are worth the investment? How do we build an analytics platform in AWS or Azure? How do we build the right team to manage the platform? What self-service options are possible for business users?

IT Operations Optimization. On one hand, IT operations is a well-known space with may strong best-practice approaches available. On the other, many IT operations teams function inefficiently, and struggle to meet customer service and technology SLAs and KPIs. How do we become more efficient as a customer service and operations organization? What training, coaching, or other team changes do we need? Do we have the right tools? Do we have the right processes? How do we adopt ITIL, CMMI, Agile, or other frameworks so we get the most benefit without incurring a large administrative overhead burden?

Q: What is your background in enterprise IT?

A: I started as a technical writer. My first job was with Lockheed-Martin in Orlando, Florida, writing a sales presentation for a major component of the Apache attack helicopter. After several other short-term technical writing gigs with companies like AT&T, FiTech, and Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center, I realized the tech writer is always the first guy to get laid off. 

I sat down and decided I wanted three things from my job: 1) Respect resulting in stability; 2) Good pay; and 3) The ability to work anywhere in the world. The obvious answer was “Programmer,” so I did some research and decide this thing called “Java” had a pretty good future. I borrowed $12k, bought a computer and a bunch of books, and went to my uncle’s house in Arizona for three months to study. 

After that, Richard Stroud with N-Tier Solutions gave me my first opportunity as a junior programmer, for which I’ll always be grateful. From there I developed quickly as a programmer, software architect, and technical team lead. I ended up leading development of a major piece of international software for an AIG company, which resulted in a move to the business side where I managed business and IT operations for an AIG company international group. 

That led me to a two-year stint in Hong Kong with AIG, after which I got the entrepreneurial bug and launched a software development startup in rural Russia. That was a truly great experience, but I learned the hard way: Don’t open a business in rural Russia, dummy! 

I returned to the U.S. and for the past ten years have worked primarily in the Federal space, managing multiple large-scale IT enterprises, developing enterprise IT solutions, building teams, selling work, and learning how to innovate in the highly constrained context of Federal contracting. 

Q: What are some of the more challenging scenarios you’ve encountered?

A: Probably the toughest challenge is building consensus for major IT initiatives. Any time an IT project spans departments, functions, or people groups, or attempts to provide an organizational service, it’s important to listen to input from across everyone involved. 

Larger initiatives are often weakened or even fail if there isn’t solid buy-in from the beginning. So, it’s critical to start with a lot of listening, then help shape both the project and stakeholder attitudes so a tight project approach emerges. Too often one of these extremes arises: Either one or more important groups are excluded because their input “doesn’t fit,” or the project itself is weakened by trying to accommodate everybody’s specific desire.

Another challenge, frankly, is working with IT people who are so entrenched in the technology that they’re unable to align technology solutions with business reality. It’s a healthy tension in some ways – IT experts push toward best practice and excellent solutions, while the business needs to be pragmatic, move quickly, and contain costs. I actually believe these are not mutually exclusive goals, which is why I’m writing the book, Occam’s Datacenter, but it can be difficult to bring everyone to a middle ground.  

Q: Why the philosophy “Simple is Better”?

A: Across my twenty plus years of enterprise IT experience, I’ve watched the same theme play out over and over:

  • IT systems are needed to support business requirements.
  • IT systems are greatly over-designed for the actual requirements.
  • Projects run over time and/or budget.
  • Operations costs are higher than expected.

As a result, I’ve come to favor driving simplicity at every possible point. While business people usually immediately see the value here, you’d be surprised how hard it can be to get IT people to agree with this approach! 

The usual objections are that I’ll ignore certain requirements or solve an immediate problem with no regard for the future. But that’s not the case at all. Successful IT design meets requirements, including expected future needs, using the smallest, simplest possible technology footprint.

Q: You have an academic background in philosophy. How has that affected your work in IT?

A: Philosophy is one of the most misunderstood academic disciplines taught today. Most people either confuse philosophy with psychology, or think philosophy is a highly speculative, almost romantic approach to asking big questions and experiencing awe as an answer. 

But the reality couldn’t be further from that: Academic philosophy is a highly structured, rigorous set of methodologies for building solutions to large scale thought problems and testing those solutions for logical rigor. 

I learned this the hard way from Professor Richard Cross at Oxford University. He’s one of the foremost living logicians in the world today, and he generously granted me an independent tutorial at Oxford in the summer of 1996. I studied the concept of medieval universals with him, and every week received from him an amazing lesson in structure, disciplined thinking, research, and above all, rigor. 

When I moved into IT, I was amazed to discover it was all based on the philosophy I’d studied. Programming and large-scale solutions architecture in particular are straight out of philosophical methods. By applying philosophical concepts to IT paradigms, I was able to think critically about IT and team development, rather than falling into the common trap of getting hung up by the established IT way of doing things.      

Q: How do CIOs get beyond their pain points?

A: Great question. If I had an easy answer, I’d already be retired on a thousand acres in Montana! Seriously, though, there are some key factors that greatly reduce the pain and cause the CIO’s mission to become successful:

First, build the right team. 

In my experience, most of the perceived problems simply go away when you align your team to the mission. So, this means you must have a mission and be able to express it, and you must build an organization chart that supports the mission. Then, there’s the hard work of training, repositioning, hiring, and unfortunately, firing, to get the workforce aligned. I’ve found there’s no substitute for this. An aligned workforce is energized and capable of self-motivation because every employee really counts, really matters, and has clear responsibility. A misaligned workforce perpetuates organizational issues, no matter how much training, process, or force is used to fix the problems.

Second, do less, and do it better. 

IT has an inherent sprawl problem such that the scope of work tends to perpetually increase until it overwhelms available resources. I fully recognize there are many critical and complex tasks that must be done to build, operate, and improve an IT enterprise. So, I’m not saying ignore critical tasks. I’m saying that all task areas and tasks must be identified, aligned to the mission, and prioritized. If a task isn’t required to support the business or doesn’t have a tangible benefit in terms of cost or efficiency, it should be prioritized lower.

Finally, have a realistic roadmap. 

The purpose of the roadmap is to continuously move toward greater alignment of IT and business, improved operations and engineering efficiency, and reduced costs. Think of the roadmap as the task list and priorities extended out in time. This provides transparency for everyone involved so people know what to expect, and IT progresses predictably and under clear management.

Q: Tell us about your book project, The CIO’s Handbook.

A: Today, there’s no single book or manual that teaches real-world approaches to managing the full enterprise IT organization. Many books exist on key areas, but there’s a real need for a resource that pulls it all together into a coherent, effective, risk-based approach.   I’ve seen the need for a book like this for years, and finally decided to put it out there.

Q: Tell us about your book project, Consulting Superpowers.

A: Consulting Superpowers is a fun book for me. For years I’ve helped clients and employees understand IT and business situations, and this book encompasses many of the specific techniques I’ve learned to really cut through the noise and clearly show the problem, the analysis, the options, the recommendation, and the path forward. I’m a very visual thinker, so this book talks a lot about how to effectively use charts, graphs, data, and whiteboard sessions.

Q: Tell us about your book project, Occam’s Datacenter.

A: The sad fact is, enterprise IT rarely fulfills its promises. We have amazing technology and a deep understanding of how to support business with IT systems. And yet, most large projects fail to meet their goals, cost more than intended, take longer than expected, and prove more difficult than expected to maintain after deployment. 

I’ve come to believe this is due to the known phenomenon of human Complexity Bias – our preference for complex solutions versus simple solutions – and that we unintentionally sabotage major projects by making them unnecessarily complex. 

This book unpacks Complexity Bias, shows how it plays out in real-world scenarios, and suggests an approach to enterprise IT solution design, deployment, and operations that focuses on simplicity and alignment with the business.