Thursday, 30 April 2015

Achieving Digital Agility with Bimodal IT without making a mess

Yesterday was spent in a workshop with colleagues from other Universities and Sheffield on Biomodal IT.

So, What does that mean? Biomodal IT is the practice of managing two separate, coherent modes of IT delivery, one focused on stability, and the other on agility.
Mode 1 is traditional and sequential, emphasising safety and accuracy. Mode 2 is exploratory and non linear, emphasing agility and speed.

That's the text book definition, and we spent a lot of time unpicking what it actually meant.

Gartner estimates that by 2017 75% of organisations will have a Bimodal capability. Half will make a mess.

Bimodal IT is not a nice to have - we will have to embrace it.

So, here are some notes of my key take-aways.

Bimodal is not:
Anything that splits in two.

Agile development

Pace layering

An IT capability, it's a business capability. Requires engagement from the business.

An operating model or organisational chart change

Shadow IT

This slide perhaps illustrates what the differences are between Mode 1 and Mode 2

Key risks in implementing bimodal IT:
Really important that both modes are connected. You need to work in a collaborative style with shared alignment.
You fall into the timid middle   Because second mode can look scary, there is a temptation to  de-risk it. Wrap it in comfort blanket.
Technical debt. Inevitable that you will take shortcuts. Have to monitor and manage it
Create an us and them situation. Need to create equity between teams
Renovating the core. A lot of agility in second mode comes from what you do with your core applications, so need flexibility in those

Need to apply filters to decide which projects you apply Mode 2 to. Customer experience, mobile, social, all are common

Mode 2 is always iterative. Apply the principle of producing the smallest viable product. Then use and iterate.
Have to delegate the autonomy to the team.

Need innovation management as part of governance.  Prune ideas.  Fail visibly and fail fast. 
 If the organisation is not prepared to accept failure, then it won't work.

 Need to identify people who can work in this way.

Start before you think you are ready

Some people start with an innovation lab

Or innovation team

Others start with agile

Then show how you can apply this to your digital strategy
Everyone starts small

Important thing is to start

Answer these 3 questions in order, as you go through a project:

Does this idea has value
What shape should this idea take?

How do we scale this idea


Mistake is to start with last question, or nothing will get off ground

Bimodal is very experiential, you have to do it to learn it.

You have to find a part of the business to work with you in this way. If they won't, find a different project.

Select projects which have minimal interaction with mode 1 team

Important to avoid tension between teams, Need to make sure there is equity between teams in terms of recognition and reward.  
Be careful with language
.  There has to be more that unites them than divides them -  common goals, values, priorities

Some examples from other places:

One University uses students to come up with and develop ideas - they are a cheap resource and enthusiastic.
Provide some money to have a competiton and let them work with you over the summer to develop something.

Another University has created a small innovation team in IT. 2 people - one a developer and one with a web marketing background. Exploring gamification. 
Also have students working on mobile app development.

How do you transfer things into services? Especially if developed by students
Easy to develop a bright shiny object, and then move on to next bright shiny object
Organisation needs a clear understanding of what "done " is
Mode 2 needs to take responsibility for something to be useable.
Going back to 3 questions, when you get to last one, have to decide whether you can afford to scale it or not.

A very interesting workshop, and something I am keen to take forward.

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

The first chick....

After watching our peregrines incubating their 4 eggs for a few weeks, its exciting to see we've got a chick! Hatched sometime overnight, it's been hiding under the adults all day, but I managed to get a picture of it feeding about 4pm this afternoon.

So, that's productivity down for a while then :-)  I love watching them - keep up with them here, and the new camera will make for some great viewings.

But for now, this was filmed early this morning, just after the chick hatched. I think breakfast was being eaten....

Diary of a 24 hour Inspirational Lecture

Finally got round to writing up the 24 Hours from Thursday 16 to Friday 17 April. A truly inspirational day and night!

1340 The team starts to take the kit in

1530 A Diary Room is being constructed, and yes, it does look like a beach hut. But it will be decorated with fairy lights and a shower curtain, so that's OK...

 1650 almost ready to go. And lots, and lots of food is arriving.

1655 The audience is ready

 1658 and Alex (aka Biscuits) is wide awake and raring to film for 24 hours..

1700 We're off! Opening welcome by Catherine - chief organiser.

1705 First session - a Tribute to Victoria Henshaw by John Flint. Researched the Importance of smell in a city and how important it is to an urban environment.  She argued that there was movement to get rid of smell. To sterilise the city. Had bottles of smells. Room like something out of Hogwarts. "She pulls out a can of Glasgow" quote in the guardian.

1730 - its Nate Adams on Nanobots, and we have props!

All about the need to harness energy from the sun. Gene jockeys and Biochemists working together :-) We got a demo of Freddie and Mabel (2 parts of an enzyme, obviously), being hit my a laser

And a hydrogen rocket!

We did let the party poppers off, but  can't remember why

1800 - talk on music for well being from Victoria Williamson. First (and only) technical issue of night
Fascinating talk about the connection between music and memory and emotion.

1830 Paul White on population growth - latest UN projection for global population in 2050 is 9.6 billion.
Managed to grab some tea - noodles cooked by Stuart.

1900 More about sound. 10% of population have tinnitus.Sound very important in our environment.
BBC used recordings of mutter to make people feel more at home in quiet offices. B and Q turn the music down on Wednesdays as it's pensioners day - who knew!

1930 Morag Rose. On loitering with intent! Great talk about the Loiterers Resistance Movement in Manchester. First Sunday on every month they go for a wander. Sometimes throw a dice to decide which way to go. Or follow a different map. Or follow things that are yellow. Sometimes there's an organised route eg to look at something in particular. Just done a sense walk.
Currently running contest for the most audacious buddleia! Love it!

2000 Clare McGourlay getting very upset at changes to legal aid. And rightly so!
Justice is now too expensive to pursue for many people.
3 months after changes, sex discrimination cases dropped by 90%. Race similar.
Just because people can't afford it.
Courts getting clogged up with people turning up to represent themselves.
Our own students are in the courts helping the judges out.
Loved the fact that all the way through the talk she referred to the Secretary of State for Justice as The Odious One. Or just Odious.

2030 Music and dancing going strong in the foyer

2100 First particle physics lecture of the night.  And, the chalk has come out for writing on the blackboard!!!   Anatomy of the ATlAS particle detector. Built some of it here in Sheffield.
3000 physicists in 40 countries working on ATLAS experiment.
It's well known that CERN collects antimatter to make bombs, illustrated with a great clip from Angels and Demons. In reality (!), he calculated it would take 15m years to make 0.5g of antimatter

2130 Tim Sheppard - a Musicologist. talking about Renaissance music and it's role in governance.
Machiavelli mentioned a lot.

2200 very popular talk - Catherine Fletcher - academic advisor to the producers of Wolf Hall.
For example, what sort of accessories did they wear?
Interesting that they didn't try to reproduce the actual colour. Would have been very bright and colourful, would have looked garish to us, we're used to seeing that period as faded.

2230 Something about neutrinos
Is it time to put the pyjamas on yet?

2300 This should be fun. Matt Mears comes in with 5 boxes, to illustrate 5 laws of physics, and we pick which box to illustrate which law. Ad lib physics

2330 Put pyjamas on. Toyed with idea of wearing panda onesie, but seems to be distinct lack of them this year.  Missed apparently very good session on codes and secret messages. Must watch when videos are out. Ian standing by door - his place. Apparently you can't go to sleep standing up. Tell me that in a few hours....

 Midnight - and I'm on as MC. First up in my spot is Andrew Parnell on colour. Complete with colourful shirt. He has a slinky and lots of feathers. We have 3 cones in our eyes, birds have 4 so can see more than us. But we're not sure what! Beautiful picture of Peacock feather under electron microscope. They're trying to work out the colour of a dodo from a tiny piece of feather that has been kept.

0030 - OK, it's time for the Smut Slot. Wonder why they asked me to MC these next talks? And real coffee arrives courtesy of my mate Vanessa!

Chella Quint bursts in wearing a onesie (wish I'd put mine on now....) and empties her props onto the table. Seems to be various types of sanitary wear.... Some men in audience looking uncomfortable.Then we get 30 minutes on periods - including a fair amount of interactivity!
Fantastic talk - funny, informative and breaks down many taboos.
Bizarre sight of a PVC in a sanitary belt will be forever etched on my mind.
Favourite quote - "Vaginas are self cleaning, like ovens"

0100 More in the Smut Slot - Allan Pacey on the Ins and Outs of Sperm donations. Thankfully no live demonstrations.
First donor insemination was 1884 when a doctor inseminated a woman with the sperm of a student, without telling her.
Law changed in 2004 to remove anonymity and we suffered a drop in the number of donors.
Now we import about 1/3 of our sperm, mainly from Denmark. Look out for the sperm bike.....

Loved some of the advertising slogans used in the past, including "Give a toss for Britain"

0130 And more smut - Tony Ryan on condoms
Oldest form of contraception - 6000 years old. Originally to protect against disease
Pregnancy not recognised till much later.
Originally made from animal gut. Intended to be reused. Sterilised by boiling.
One area where you pay more for less - the thinner they are now, the more expensive.
First imported and sold in barbers shops
Condom factories are funny - 10,000 glass knobs on a conveyor belt
Have to have a sense of humour to work in condom development - understatement of day!

0200 Yay - it's time for Ed Daw to play some blues on his piano - and here is is playing You Are my Project Sunshine for Tony Ryan

0230 Drew Tarmey
How many people are frightened of needles? I suppose I can't be, as I've spent quite a lot of time having my back tattood - but about 10% of the population are needle phobic
When did we first start injecting people with needles? In Roman times
So, we need needle free injection device like Star Trek
Drive medication though skin with a high pressure jet was around  from 1947.
Can get modern jet injectors. Not completely pain free! So, drew injected himself with one to prove it worked, and wasn't painful!

0300 More music in the foyer

0310 Took a bit of time out to talk about magic with Aneurin Kennedy. He's great at mind reading. Or is is all a trick.....

0330 James Mullarky dressed all in black fortelling the end of the earth and universe....

In 100,000 years we'll have another period of glaciation. Everything North of us will be crushed.
In 10m years. Africa will slowly crash into Europe due to plate tectonics.
In 100m years, Australia will crash into Indonesia.
Everything that we know won't exist anymore.
6.5bn years away from total extinction of life on Earth. The experiment that is life will end. We are now closer to the end, than the beginning.
In 100bn years things start to get a bit weird...
This is bloody fascinating, and all delivered by a man in a black hooded dressing gown

Ian's taken over the filming, but is still standing up...

0400  Anna Topakas  in a fab onesie - and the microphone transmitter fits in the hood. A must have for departmental meetings...

 0430  Rhonda Hawkins on what is life. My main take away quote - "If you saw hair gel moving across the floor you'd be a bit freaked out"

0500    We're trending!!

Bit of a gap to stretch legs - a quick walk round the local area. Very interesting at this time of the morning. Need to make sure I get my step count up too..

0525  Glad to see Greg in his PJs.

0530  Alistair Warren resplendent in PJs talking about whips and lashes

Whiplash injury accounts for 70% of all RTAs.  Adds about £100 on to all of our car insurance per year.
Human head weighs about 11lbs. Crash helmet weighs 4lbs. Helmet can protect, but can also contribute to whiplash because makes head heavier
A 15lb helmeted head can travel forward at 107g in a 40 g head on collision.
Then lots about vertebrae and a demonstration of how hanging works. Nice.

0600  Brill pictures from Ash Cadby and Katherine Inskip - voting on what are best - very small (microscopy pictures) or very big (astronomy pics)

0630 Peter Bath - sharing infomation on forums if you have a life threatening illness

0700  Jane Hodson. What can bad novels tell us about dialect  - Lots of interesting dialects, good and bad, from novels including Jane Austen

0715 - Coffee Rev and Johns Van are both open - thank the lord!!  Do a run to both for coffee and bacon butties

0730 Something about Einstein and protons

0800  Now maths.  Golden Frames in buildings.

Why do mathmaticians write on blackboards? Best bit of morning - he got the formula wrong and his PhD student had to shout out the correction from the audience!

Losing it a bit now.  Should I have a nap? Decide to have a quick walk outside, but then grab a few minutes of a nap....

1030 Wake up in time to hear  Katie Edwards on the Hollywood epics and the character of God - God's a brat.
"To look upon God would kill a human" : Exodus. Makes for a pretty tricky one to one.

1100 - whoooo lots more props arriving. David Mowbray and Marieke Navin on Light.
We have glow sticks, a Mexican wave. A demo of light travelling in a straight line by sprinkling chalk dust on a laser to see it. Disappointed to learn that James Bond films are wrong and you cant see laser beams. 
Making optic fibre with a water cooler

Trippy glasses

Nate makes a fire rainbow

Raspberry pie demo of infra red camera pointed at audience

Well that woke us all up!

1200  Marek Szablewski tells the story of one of his father's friends - Joker.  One of the few to escape from Auschwitz and survive.

1230 - Penelope Ottewell on cancer research. Cancer very prevalent today. In 1900 most people died of infectious diseases. Now, cancer and heart disease
We've improved standard of living and used antibiotics to get rid of infectious diseases
Also, people live longer.
Why do people get cancer?
Age, cellular mechanism gets tired, more mistakes: Bugs - some bugs cause cancer; Genetics; Environmental factors eg smoking, obesity, asbestos, radiation, pollutants etc
But for most cancers, still don't know what cause is
First link between environment and cancer 1775. Boys, chimney sweeps, cancer of scrotum

1300 - hungry. Thank goodness for John's van

1330  Heather Campbell on planning.
Effective planning is about possibilities. A sense that you can create a better world
All about the collective good not individual interest
Planning is necessary to change the world for the better

1400 - It's Professor Vanessa!!  A last minute substitution as someone has dropped out. Here she is with her Auntie Brenda

Some great life quotes from her real fairground family:
Educate don't patronise your audience or public
Never turn your back on a snake
Never stoop down without picking something up
If you want something done ask a busy woman
My favourite - Never go to bed with a man you can squash. (or Go into partnership with people who are your equal)
Family motto - Fun without vulgarity
And - there's always the dancing pig.

This 1907 film, made in Paris by Pathe, never fails to amuse and disturb me. Mainly disturb.

1430 from dancing pigs to robotics with Tony Prescott, Director of Sheffield Robotics talking about the singularity.
"The technological singularity is the hypothesis that accelerating progress in technologies will cause a runaway effect wherein artificial intelligence will exceed human intellectual capacity and control, thus radically changing civilization in an event called "the singularity".
Because the capabilities of such an intelligence may be impossible for a human to comprehend, the technological singularity is an occurrence beyond which events may become unpredictable, unfavorable, or even unfathomable."  So there.
Expected in 2045. Or maybe not.
The future maybe more like today than you think.

1530 Amber Regis talks about Love at First Read and her love affair (metaphorically speaking) with the writer John Addington Symonds. There's still a lot of people here....

1600 have just noticed that John Flint is sitting behind me with what looks like a bottle of Grande Marnier!

1630 - finally - the last lecture!! Richard Jones on Making Life.

Golems,  Homunculus, Frankenstein.
2010 saw the first artificial life breakthrough - first living cell controlled by synthetic DNA.  Led to great Daily Mail headline.

This synthetic DNA has a  watermark in the DNA including quote from James Joyce. Most pretentious parasite ever?
Most important thing about living things is that they are massively out of equilibrium.

And finally - some moving closing words from Catherine.

and Tom has already edited some of the diary room video....

Great event again. Despite several of us making it through 24 hours, only one person saw every single lecture.  Well done George!

Monday, 27 April 2015

RUGIT - Security, Cloud and Innovation

Today I've been to a RUGIT (Russell Group IT Directors) meeting in London at Kings College. A great location by London Bridge with the Shard towering over it.

First up was a session from JISC on security issues, starting with the implications for us of the Counter terrorism and security act 2015. It says that we should have due regard of the need to prevent people for being drawn into terrorism. It also says that as a university, we should have particular regard for promoting free speech.
Guidance on implementing the act has been published and is available here, and it advise that it should not add large new burdens to institutions who are following current best practice. Most of guidance is around updating policies and processes, including acceptable use policy which is expected to mention the new statutory duty, but no wording is currently suggested.

There's no real technology implications, other than if an institution already filters harmful content, then you should consider adding this.
JISC is currently developing on line staff awareness training.

We then looked at some other security issues, around our complex environment which covers everything from providing home broadband to complex research environments.
We have very diverse security requirements in same organisation. Because of this, we've been dealing with issues around things like BYOD and incident response for more than 20 years.
But, because our environment is changing, and the smartphone in our pockets has more power than universities had 20 years ago.
New habits are now routine. Mobile working and the blurring of the life/work means that safe IT behaviour is no longer something you need to do at work. it's a life skill.
Security can't be done by IT alone. Our users no longer need our hardware and can change security zone at the click of a mouse.

The role of IT department is to look help our organisations adopt and choose a package of  behaviour, policy, and technology.

Think "work safe", not "stop unsafeness"

We also had a session from a layer, an expert in cloud  - he has a blog which I've a had a quick look at and it contains some interesting stuff - on cloud risks and how to manage them

The first was SLA oversell, where the sales pitch says the service will be 100% available, secure, unhackable, the best, fastest, cheapest etc. however, the SLA will contain phrases like "make  Reasonable efforts etc".
100% availability except, scheduled maintenance, planned maintenance, unscheduled maintenance, emergency, etc.

Another clause found in lots of cloud terms and conditions is the "As is" service.
Or, the service is as we provide it. It might work, it might not.
There's often other clauses excluding any warranties, with no guarantee over what they provide. No guarantee that data won't be lost. They're not liable to you for any losses, even data. All of the above are contained in a the Ts and Cs of a very big web services company who made their name selling books...

How do you manage it? Negotiate terms? But often can't with big corporates. 
Pay more, get better cloud? Pay for failover, redundancy etc?
Split between public, private and hybrid?

Issues around data compliance tax a lot of people, and we concluded that wherever your data is someone will be able to get to it
 Every country has a surveillance organisation, and some legal jurisdiction to get at data.

How do you manage this? Keep you data in your local data centre? Use a hybrid cloud? Encryption, tokenisation? Or just do a robust assessment of the risks

The other risk with cloud services is Disaster recovery and insolvency. First have gone bust, and administrators have demanded large sums of money from customers to get their data back.  You need to plan for the worst and have a DR strategy

finally we had a session on innovation management from Oxford and Birmingham. Both have implemented solutions similar to a Ideascale for generating, capturing and scoring ideas. Done in slightly different ways in the two organisations, but with similar results. Innovative ideas are sought in a campaign from staff and students, and are voted on, and the assessed by a panel. The most successful are funded. in some cases, the staff or student originator works on the project, in some they are developed by the It at department.

Very good day. Always good to meet the others and share ideas and issues

Friday, 24 April 2015

UCISA - the future

I've been In Oxford for the last couple of days on UCISA business. Yesterday we had the first meeting of the organising committee for next years UCISA conference which will be in Manchester. We collected a lot of feedback from this years, and spent most of our time going through it, and working out what we can change to improve it. The feedback was actually very good, especially on the speakers. There were some minor issues with timing, and the wifi was a bit flaky, but otherwise, a great success. Just got to make next years as good. I'm on the lookout for good speakers, so all ideas welcomed!

Today was a day long meeting of the Executive Committee, where we had a really in depth look at how UCISA operates, what is it for, and how might it change to better service the members. We also looked at the groups we have, and whether they're the right structure. We touched on our relationship with other bodies such as JISC and RUGIT, and our sister organisations - most of the professional services have membership organisations covering HR, Finance, Estates Student services, Libraries etc and it's important that we work with them. Lots of good discussion, and rather a lot of actions to take forward.

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Achieve more, benchmarking and call centres

The last time I posted, the 24 hour lecture was about to take place. Well, it did, supported by several staff from CiCS, and some of us made it for the full 24 hours! I took lots of pictures, and intend to write it up as a diary of the 24 hours, as soon as I find the time.

This week there's been a collection of meetings. Business Continuity Operations Group, where we looked at how we might set up and run a call centre in the case of a major incident. Technically not really a problem as we could get it set up fairly quickly provided we could get to the space and the kit, but staffing it might be a bigger problem. Staff would need training, we'd need access to different language speakers, and depending on the nature, severity of the incident, we might need several shifts of people. A number of options being looked at, including buying the service in if we needed it.

We had a meeting of  heads of department with  UEB and Professional Service directors, where we discussed the "Achieve More" challenges which we introduced this year for all first year students. Next year it will be rolled out to level two students as well, but in a different format.  Lots of discussion on the format, the academic challenges, and the logistics. this year we had all first year Arts and Humanities and Social Science students doing it in the same week - that's about 3000 students, so to say it was a logistical challenge would be an understatement. But, we coped, and plans are already underway to improve it for next year.

The only other meeting I'll comment on was a presentation about benchmarking - a proposal to benchmark the costs of different services across the whole University, looking at all staff who are not academics and allocating time to different tasks. Other Universities are taking part, so we would have  data to compare. Not sure yet if we're going to take part, will keep you all posted.

The rest of the week has been general catching up and preparing for some meetings coming up next week.

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

24 hour Inspirational lecture approaches....

The above says it all!! The 24 hour lecture is nearly upon us.  This Thursday starting at 5pm, and running until 5pm on Friday. It's open to all, further details  here, and you can download the programme here. 

Try and get along if you can - the lectures are really accessible, although I have struggled in the past with a couple of the physics ones, but I put that down to sleep deprivation.

I'm comparing the post midnight spot, and for some reason they've given me lectures on sperm and condoms to introduce!

It's a real fun and informative event, raising money for good causes, and refreshments will be available.

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Agile and TechQual

Sorry for the long gap in posts - had some time off over Easter to stay in a Yurt!  You should try it - it was great fun, and with our own private, log fired hot tub! Definitely more glamping than camping.

A couple of big meetings this week so far. Monday was our Service Strategy Board, where we had our normal look at project progress and things happening in our service areas. We also had a good discussion about Agile Project Prioritisation and resourcing. Our Aim is to improve project prioritisation on the basis of business value vs resource usage, and keep this under review. We think that an agile approach will help us with resource management, and not just in CiCS, but in the business units we work with, and should help colleagues plan their project resource commitment.It should also improve the visibility and transparency of decision making. We'll also be looking to manage all major developments as projects, rahter than just some of them which is what we do now. Lots more work to do in the area but we're pressing on with it.

Today we had a departmental meeting, where I presented the results of a recent staff survey we did. TechQual tool, which asks our customers to say what the minimum level of service for a particular area they would be prepared to accept, what is their desired level, and what they think we provide.  We sent it to all University staff late last year, and have been analysing the results. Overall satisfaction with our services is up from the last time carried out a survey which is good, but there are some areas for improvement. We've chosen 8 key themes, and devised an action plan for all of them, with either myself or an Assistant Director acting as sponsor for each area, to ensure that the actions get carried out.   You can see the themes and the action plan here.
We used the

We also had a good talk on the progress we're making with lecture capture using our Echo360 project, our project to improve Research IT support, and a very useful session from one of our HR colleagues on the importance of objective setting during our annual review SRDS (Staff Review and Development Scheme).