Bob Lewis

Bob Lewis

Columnist

Bob Lewis is a senior management and IT consultant, focusing on IT and business organizational effectiveness, strategy-to-action planning, and business/IT integration. And yes, of course, he is Digital. He can also be found on his blog, Keep the Joint Running.

Articles by Bob Lewis

11 old-school IT principles that still rule
Feature

11 old-school IT principles that still rule

Technology changes rapidly, but beneath the buzzwords, the fundamentals of sound IT strategy remain. Here are 11 legacy IT tenets that still reign — when applied in their modernized guise.
December 3, 2020
8 dark secrets of organizational change management
Opinion

8 dark secrets of organizational change management

In the digital era, organizational change management is crucial to business success — far too crucial to be dogged by its misconceptions and false assumptions.
February 5, 2020
IT-as-a-business is dead. Long live BusOps
Opinion

IT-as-a-business is dead. Long live BusOps

Thanks to digital transformation, technology is embedded in every business process and practice your company relies on. It’s time to take a tip from DevOps, and rethink the business-IT divide.
October 16, 2019
Digital transformation’s dark secret
Opinion

Digital transformation’s dark secret

Much of what passes as digital transformation these days is more cosmetic than foundational. The root of true change is deeper than you think.
October 31, 2018
The case against the ‘business-savvy CIO’
Opinion

The case against the ‘business-savvy CIO’

Being business-savvy isn’t a radical recommendation. It’s clichéd. These days, tech know-how and business smarts are inseparable when it comes to transformational CIOs.
September 20, 2018
The dark secrets of enterprise architecture
Opinion

The dark secrets of enterprise architecture

Architecture matters too much to entrust to a framework or methodology. But don’t worry: Not having a methodology isn’t a problem; it’s a liberation.
June 5, 2018
12 bad habits that slow IT to a crawl
Feature

12 bad habits that slow IT to a crawl

Bottlenecks always seem born of the best intentions, but they must be rooted out — and broken. From governance to manual provisioning, here's what's holding up your IT organization's ability to deliver results.
April 19, 2018
How to kill a dead project
How-To

How to kill a dead project

Think you might have a zombie IT project on your hands? Killing it can be challenging. It takes just the right mix of forensics and logistical know-how, and a lot of political will.
December 18, 2017
Feature

9 warning signs of bad IT architecture

A sound IT architecture keeps your company’s technology strategy humming. From kludges to manual re-keying to redundant apps, these are the telltale indicators of an IT environment on the brink of collapse.
August 9, 2017
Practical Advice for Working CIOs

Explorers, Servants, and Players

Human beings are nature's superior communicators. That's the theory, at least. Watching how often and how persistently we misunderstand each other, we can only be jealous of honeybees. They admittedly have less to say to each other (mostly, the subject is where to find food), but they're able to ask and understand the answer with perfect precision.
November 16, 2011
Practical Advice for Working CIOs

Competitors, mechanics, referees, and economists

"Every system is perfectly designed to produce the results it gets." - Dr. Paul Batalden Call it governance. Call it "managing the project portfolio." Call it whatever dull, uninspired, bureaucracy-invoking name you prefer.
November 10, 2011
Practical Advice for Working CIOs

Metrics Misuse

When someone starts by asking, "What metrics should we use?" nothing good will come of it.
November 2, 2011
Practical Advice for Working CIOs

Big Shift, or Shifty Statistics?

Bad metrics continue to be worse than no metrics because, as Mark Twain famously said, "It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble. It's what you do know that ain't so."
October 19, 2011
Practical Advice for Working CIOs

Why Steve Jobs Mattered

“I’m good, but I’m no Frankie Yankovic.” - Weird Al Yankovic, when asked if he and polka king Frankie Yankovic were related, and wouldn’t this make a great t-shirt?
October 12, 2011
Practical Advice for Working CIOs

When App Dev Catches Baumol’s Cost Disease

Do you suffer from Baumol's Disease? Even worse, do your top executives suffer from Altitude-Induced Baumol Blindness Syndrome?
October 5, 2011
Practical Advice for Working CIOs

Persuasion as Human Engineering

Engineering doesn't begin as a profession or credentials, but as a perspective:
September 29, 2011
Practical Advice for Working CIOs

Objectivity Traps

Some studies claim to demonstrate that intuition is more reliable than evidence-based decision-making. Which makes me wonder, if a study presents evidence that intuition is superior to evidence, does it prove itself wrong?
September 21, 2011
Practical Advice for Working CIOs

The Enlightenment still matters

“Doubt is one of the names of intelligence.” - Jorge Luis Borges What this country's founders had in common was, more than anything else, the Enlightenment -- an intellectual heritage that considered evidence and reason to be superior to faith, tradition, and authority as ways of understanding the world.
September 13, 2011
Practical Advice for Working CIOs

Leaders Have to Learn the Job, Just Like Everyone Else

Buy yourself a didgeridoo and blow into it. The consequent auditory experience will be less than euphonic (although it might be helpful anyway if you suffer from sleep apnea, not that this has anything to do with anything).
September 7, 2011
Practical Advice for Working CIOs

Providing Technology Leadership

IT governance is a bread-and-butter topic for consultants like me. Relatively few companies are happy with how they go about deciding:
August 24, 2011
Practical Advice for Working CIOs

The pitfalls of gauging craziness

Do you work for a psychopath? Someone who’s just plain nuts? One of the crazies mentioned last week?
August 16, 2011
Practical Advice for Working CIOs

Dealing with crazies

Craziness can be good. Positive feedback loops can be good. It's like steak and hot fudge ... two good things that aren't so good when you put them together.
August 10, 2011
Practical Advice for Working CIOs

A CIO’s-Eye View of the Debt Ceiling Crisis

I'll probably regret writing this piece, and I apologize in advance for so overtly bringing in, not just the headlines, but an attitude about them. But if I wrote about anything other than the debt ceiling I'd feel like Nero with his fiddle.
August 3, 2011
Practical Advice for Working CIOs

News flash! IT does its best to circumvent capitalism!

Capitalism depends on two principles -- the law of supply and demand, and the ability of every customer to take his, her, or its business elsewhere (I include "its" because the Supreme Court has ruled that corporations are people too, but hasn't commented on their gender).
July 27, 2011
Practical Advice for Working CIOs

Keeping Current

Why keep up with current events? Not as in reading the newspaper and knowing what's going on, although that's important if you want to be a responsible citizen.
July 20, 2011
Practical Advice for Working CIOs

CIO Time Management at the Speed of Light

According to Einstein's Special Theory of Relativity, time is just another linear dimension, no different from forward and backward, up and down, or right and left.
July 14, 2011
Practical Advice for Working CIOs

One More Cloud Benefit Becomes Cloudier

When a state government shuts down, the proximate root cause is a lack of funding. The next-level root cause is that the two sides weren't able to find an acceptable compromise. The deep root cause is that THE OTHER SIDE IS EVIL, STUPID, AND ENTIRELY LACKING IN THE SLIGHTEST SENSE OF HOW THINGS WORK.
July 5, 2011
Practical Advice for Working CIOs

The Hellstrom Enterprise Chronicle

Talking about business ethics is like drinking bourbon. It starts out as a conversational lubricant and can lead to interesting exchanges of ideas. But if you keep going, mostly you'll end up just shooting your mouth off, without saying anything at all interesting and possibly getting into a pointless fight.
June 30, 2011
Practical Advice for Working CIOs

End of the Wild West for IT?

"Isn't it time for IT to figure it out, and be like Accounting where everyone knows how things are supposed to get done?" What's a self-important pundit to do? So, socially awkward or not, I answered. "I sure hope not," is what I said.
June 22, 2011
Practical Advice for Working CIOs

Development team ethics, Part II – The Cesspool

Are standard project management practices really unethical? Or are they simply the lesser of the available evils? I won't stoop to an Anthony Weiner tie-in. I won't stoop to an Anthony Weiner tie-in. I won't I won't I won't I won't ...
June 14, 2011
Practical Advice for Working CIOs

Development team ethics, Part I – The Abyss

Before calling anyone unethical, make sure you understand the subject. The less people know, the stronger their opinion. It's a fine American tradition, and it's nowhere more in evidence than when people get on their high horses about other peoples' ethics.
June 7, 2011
Practical Advice for Working CIOs

A Week in Provence

A week in Provence provided insights and parallels with running IT.Peter Mayle spent a year in a farmhouse between Menerbes and Bonnieux, wrote about it, became famous, and inflated the real estate market for kilometers around.
June 1, 2011
Practical Advice for Working CIOs

End-User Computing Manifesto, v3

Companies used to value employee innovation. The value is still there. The interest? Here's one way to increase it.Apple and internal IT have a lot in common.Not really. But they could.Take the App Store, and Apple's well-known policy that before you control what you install on your iPad, Apple first controls what can't.
May 20, 2011
Practical Advice for Working CIOs

Encourage innovation? What does that mean?

There are reasons companies don't encourage employee innovation. None of them are good, but there are reasons.The session was titled End User Computing. I thought it was a grammatical error ... I expected it to be about end-user computing, not about how to end ... as in prevent ... user computing.
May 11, 2011
Practical Advice for Working CIOs

Tablets won’t be disruptive ’til the future gets here

"Disruptive technology" used to mean something important. Now it means "good." That's too bad. 2nd of three parts.ManagementSpeak: This is a disruptive technology. Translation: I have no idea what this is good for.
May 3, 2011
Practical Advice for Working CIOs

A tablet-driven view of what’s wrong with American business

The iPad's success mirrors quite a few of our failings. Why? Read on.ManagementSpeak: None of the established commercial packages met our needs, so we had to write our own. Translation: We don't do things like any other company, and would rather spend money than reconsider.
April 28, 2011
Practical Advice for Working CIOs

The Godfather of Gore on Project Management, Part II

Making movies is project management, and has a lot in common with what IT does. But not everything. "Ever notice that 'what the hell' is always the right decision?" - Marilyn Monroe, quoted in Jack Kastorff's Lessons from Life calendar (jack.kastorff@comcast.net)
April 15, 2011
Practical Advice for Working CIOs

The Godfather of Gore on Project Management, Part I

Making software and making movies have a lot in common"Woody makes films. I make movies." - Mel Brooks when asked about how he and Woody Allen differed.Metaphors can't prove a point but they're terrific ways to illustrate them.
April 8, 2011
Practical Advice for Working CIOs

Agile Iron Chefs?

Entrepreneurs and corporate managers are fundamentally different. Agile and Waterfall are different in the exact same way.ManagementSpeak: Sure the product can still be delivered on-time.  We can leverage our existing resources to implement these new features.
March 29, 2011
Practical Advice for Working CIOs

Words Enterprise Architects should only speak in whispers

Attention enterprise architects: Showing how smart you are is a losing propositionManagementSpeak: It's not about ego. Translation: It is about ego: mine! And mine won't suffer, yours will.
March 24, 2011
Practical Advice for Working CIOs

For in that sleep of outsourcing, what Dreamliners may come … and when?

When executives ignore their engineers, the only questions are when disaster will occur, and what the disaster will be.ManagementSpeak: What do you think would be best for the company? Translation: Tell me what is best for me and what I want to hear.
March 15, 2011
Practical Advice for Working CIOs

Enterprise Architecture / Enterprise Technical Architecture Cage Match

Which matters more, enterprise architecture or enterprise technical architecture? EA has the altitude, but ETA pays the bills.ManagementSpeak: We run a lean organization here. Translation: We have far too few people doing way too much work, and none of it is done particularly well.
March 8, 2011
Practical Advice for Working CIOs

Workforce Oversupply and Undersupply

For most positions, the applicant who is a perfect fit isn't a good fit.ManagementSpeak: People are our greatest asset.Translation: We have too much of a good thing.Mark “in transition” Hank helps us understand the nature of corporate assets.
March 2, 2011