Editor for a Day: Greg Shields, Raytheon Company
Despite a resistant corporate culture, Greg and his colleagues developed a formalized change management process, which can even be adapted to smaller groups.
- By Greg Shields
Nearly three years ago, when my company began an initiative to establish
IT enterprise processes, I stood out as one of its biggest opponents.
Openly and emphatically I professed to coworkers and management my vision
of an IT department that could no longer meet its deadlines. Forever stuck
in endless approval cycles and incessant documentation of our ever-changing
environment, I saw “process” as the end of my ability to get
my job done.
Others in the organization shared my concerns. We felt we were no longer
trusted to do our jobs without heavy management oversight. We felt that
the strain of an extra two to four hours of approval meetings every week
would keep us from doing “real work.”
Boy, were we wrong.
The culture in IT often shies away from formalizing our processes, but
out in the real world people live and die by following strict sets of
rules. As a mountain climber here in Colorado, I follow a known set of
rules that determine when to keep ascending the mountain and when to turn
around because of inclement weather, exhaustion or a bad route choice.
As a backcountry snowboarder, I use time-tested rules to gauge the snow
and determine that conditions are safe. These processes don’t keep
me off the mountain—they ensure I come back alive day after day.
But I didn’t apply the same thinking to my job. Looking back on
those times, I still laugh at how naive I was. In one meeting I’d
be griping about how process requirements were removing my ability to
accomplish tasks on time, while in another I was complaining about server
problems caused by changes made without communicating them to the group.
In still others I complained because one manager would send me off on
one task, while another would pull me in an entirely different direction.
And old saying goes, “May you live in interesting times.” Indeed.
As Microsoft Certified Professional Magazine’s Editor for
a Day, I’ve been given a fantastic opportunity to see the inner workings
of how a world-class technical magazine is run from the inside. I’ve
attended editorial staff meetings, discussed art and layout issues at
length, and had a nuts-and-bolts look at how this magazine goes from idea
to your doorstep every month. The experience has been exciting.
As one part of this experience the staff at the magazine asked me to
educate you, the reader, on a topic we all find important in improving
our work experience. As in my experience, the practical reality of enterprise
process in your company will likely be the culture shift from a reactive
to a proactive approach to IT problems. In its implementation, you’ll
also experience the dark side of organizational change—politics.
issue’s cover story we’ll look at some ideas for establishing
IT process in your organization. Although the outline provided obviously
fits well for a larger team, if you’re part of a smaller group you
can easily tailor the general concepts to something that works for you.
Should additional formal approaches to developing IT processes and baseline
management interest you, Microsoft offers its Operations Framework at
There, you’ll find detailed assessments and recommendations on how
to develop best practices suited to your IT organization. The site also
provides a dozen case studies from companies all around the world that
have used Microsoft’s process improvement programs to realize tangible
Finally, thanks MCP Magazine for welcoming me onto your team—it’s
been an unbelievable experience. If you, the reader, want to let me know
how I’ve done, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Greg Shields is a senior partner and principal technologist with Concentrated Technology. He also serves as a contributing editor and columnist for TechNet Magazine and Redmond magazine, and is a highly sought-after and top-ranked speaker for live and recorded events. Greg can be found at numerous IT conferences such as TechEd, MMS and VMworld, among others, and has served as conference chair for 1105 Media’s TechMentor Conference since 2005. Greg has been a multiple recipient of both the Microsoft Most Valuable Professional and VMware vExpert award.