frameworks izertis
Juan Manuel Espinoza Enterprise & IT Governance Manager

Frameworks: What happens when the solution becomes the problem in ICT environments?

We have been involved with frameworks, methodologies, standards, and best practices for many years. Yes, and although it may seem curious, they are not the same (I will explain later). Over several decades, we have seen how many organisations seek to solve their "problems" by eventually applying the most fashionable framework or solution. Does that sound familiar to you? 

If you have enough years, you will remember that we have gone through best practices for managing IT services, then for governing IT, then for managing projects, then for structuring those projects, then for governing services that are managed in a structured way, passing through endless discussions (with a book in hand to even discuss which version is or has been better) between what a standard says versus what logic says, and in each case, you will remember, we have come to the conclusion that they were the solution to each of our problems. 

Even for some years now (about 12 or more, according to my memories), we have popularised some approaches that question the structured or "traditional" way of doing things, and have taken it to a level where many consider that "if it is traditional, then it is bad”. So, doing it "the other way" is better than better. Change is not bad at all, it is part of evolution in all possible senses and what allows us to advance as individuals and as a society; however, we have reached a point (again) where "the solution becomes a problem". 

For a while now, we have seen that the "scope" of many of these frameworks has become so large that they have ceased to be applicable only to our environment (ICTs) to move to a more corporate level (full coverage of the company). That is not precisely negative but it carries some inconvenience in the discourse, in the approach, and above all, it already puts us in the difficulty of having to update ourselves and everything else, and perhaps that is the least of our problems. But have you thought about the following one? 

What happens to all the initiatives that you launched within your organisation, championed by the fashionable framework or the most marketed solution at the time? 

We will probably incorporate some of them into the list of productive initiatives that require an upgrade, while others will go into the repository of lessons learned (often in the "what not to do" section), and many others will remain valid for centuries to come because, beyond whether they were a trend at the time, they continue to be useful, helping us greatly. If we replace them, everything may fail forever, or a domino effect may occur, as in the end of "Fight Club." Eventually, someone will question them and try to change what works, but we already know that it won't be easy (for example, COBOL). 

Are frameworks, methodologies, standards and best practices the problem? 

No. The problem, on this issue and in almost everything in life, is that we often focus on what the majority wants and not on what we really need. Many of these "ways of working" are spectacularly useful, but we take them in the literal sense of things and do not realize the need (nor contemplate the possibility) of adapting them to our reality and, logically, making them work for us and not the other way around. 

The problemis that we often focus on what the majority wants and not on what we really need

When an organisation cannot "flow" because it is following absurd rules established by a norm, we are forgetting that "rules are made to be broken" and that if something has made us evolve and grow as a society, it has been questioning the status quo and reinventing everything. The problem is not the organisation itself. The problem is that we are often blinded or self-absorbed in applying something to comply with what the market dictates (I am not talking about regulations, of course), even when it is evident that this brings us more inconveniences than joys. 

The key to success in every choice 

We must be clear that in order to be successful in implementing any framework, methodology, standard or best practice, we must first be aware of the reality we are facing. No organisation is the same as another, and what works for one may not necessarily work for the next, even if they are in the same sector or technically do the same thing. There is no magic formula or anything like it when it comes to finding the most appropriate way to do things. 

From our experience, which is not small, the best thing you can do (although it may sound trite) is to listen to your customer. Invest as much time as possible in trying to understand their problem, what hurts them, what bothers them, and ask, chat, and ask again. If we start from the premise of "I want to help you", it is very likely that together we can find the solution. It may seem somewhat "idyllic", but you should know that when you are not clear about what is happening, any decision you make can be wrong (and in consulting, few things are left to chance). 

We have been working with multiple frameworks in different countries for many years and have had some great experiences along the way, as well as others from which I have had much to learn. However, if one thing has always been clear to me, it is that there is no better time spent than that which we use to listen to those who really matter to us (in any area). Our clients, without a doubt, are the centre of our universe and that is why we are constantly looking to offer them creative solutions to the problems that, following this best practice, we have carefully identified with care and good disposition. Experience is a degree and a determining factor in this situation. 

Knowing, managing, and mastering the various frameworks, methodologies, standards, and best practices is extremely important when providing consulting services, but regardless of how much of an expert you may become in some of these topics, we must not forget that "there is no medicine that is worth without a correct diagnosis", and that our clients are expecting just that: an accurate diagnosis, an effective treatment, and, of course, someone they can trust. 

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