When IT Fails: The Novel
The book When IT Fails: A Novel is the culmination of over 10 years of researching both high-performing and low-performing IT organizations, as well as benchmarking over 1500 IT organizations to help inform what behaviors simultaneously advance business and information security objectives.
The novel describes the fall and eventual triumph of Steve Masters, the CEO of a 100 year old, $4B/year company at the brink of existential failure. The book begins when the board of directors puts him on notice that he must either close the gap with the competition, or be replaced with a younger, more aggressive executive. The two most critical promised projects necessary to achieve this have a high reliance on IT, and are years late and way over budget.
Worse, the company is losing customers due to outages and fragile and insecure IT infrastructure, SOX-404 IT audit findings are jeopardizing their 10-K with disastrous footnotes, PCI compliance failures threaten to damage the company brand, and developers are taking dangerous shortcuts in order to meet external promises.
It starts to dawn on Steve that his survival now depends upon the success of IT and information security. And while he believes that IT is not their core competency, he learns that the company cannot function without it, and is therefore a competency that they must develop.
Bill Palmer, the newly appointed VP of IT Operations, soon becomes the driving force to create a coherent management system that reduces the chaos and unplanned work in IT operations, replacing it with a high-throughput, high-quality, execution-oriented stream of work that delivers value to the business.
The novel shows both sides of the often dysfunctional relationship between the business and IT, and shows how IT must work together in order achieve the most important business goals. We describe what is required for successful transformations, and the true business value of integrating information security into all aspect of daily operations.
When IT Fails is inspired by The Goal: A Process Of Ongoing Improvement by Dr. Eliyahu Goldratt. It has sold over 3 million copies and is taught in many business schools. Our expected release date is February 2011. Comments from CIO and CISO reviewers have been “This describes our organization exactly. Everyone in my IT organization must read this, as well as my boss and my boss’s boss.”
The authorship team from the Visible Ops Handbook has been working on "When IT Fails: The Novel" for almost five years. Gene Kim, George Spafford and Kevin Behr.
What IT Should Feel Like vs. What IT Feels Like Now...
Ideally, we want IT to develop all the capabilities that the business needs, without creating chaos and disruption to existing services. There is fast, rapid, reliable flow of features into production, and IT is protected as the critical bottleneck to create value and safeguard existing value.
Here's a great picture of what the IT factory floor should look like...
Unfortunately, IT is often the bottleneck for critical projects, as well as the cause of massive outages, compliance findings, and security breaches, and sorts of #itfail.
Here's what the opposite of fast, rapid and reliable look like. (Hilarious, but horrible.)