Black Ops IT: Getting the Job Done No Matter What

Andrew Froehlich, Network Engineer & IT Consultant | 4/30/2014 | 10 comments

Andrew Froehlich
In order for enterprise employees to work together as one unified group, they must follow carefully written policies and procedures -- but every once in a while, you may find yourself in the position where policy absolutely must be circumvented for the good of the company. These situations are what I refer to as "Black Ops IT." And believe it or not, it’s a crucial part of every enterprise organization -- as long as it’s properly handled.

In order to compete with smaller companies or startups that can more easily pivot on emerging or changing markets, enterprise IT must sometimes cut through red tape in order to keep up. The key, however, is identifying the truly important goals, so as to not overuse the privilege.

Almost all IT black ops campaigns are initiated from the top down. Typically, department heads meet with the CIO and discuss their need for a new technology -- or a massive change to an existing one. These are the types of projects that would usually take a great deal of time to approve and implement due to things like security and infrastructure architecture reviews. But if the case can be made that following the established auditing and approval process is more dangerous to the organization than skipping it, the CIO can make the decision to bypass protocol and fast-track the necessary changes. The key is that the CIO must have the foresight to know when to stand by his or her policy, and when it should be ignored. This is not the easiest skill to obtain and is an important part of any CIO’s skill set.

Ensuring covert planning and execution is the other critical component of any IT black operation. If other departments are made aware that company IT policies are being ignored for one specific reason, they begin rationalizing that they can be circumvented for many others. This creates the dreaded environment where policies become outright ignored by the entire organization. This absolutely cannot happen.

The beauty of technology, however, is that many policies and procedures can be covertly bypassed within the infrastructure, and the vast majority of the organization will never know. The weak link then becomes the IT employees themselves. As the old saying goes, “Loose lips sink ships” -- and the same holds true for IT policy circumvention. Make sure your IT staff keeps it quiet when they get the green light to perform tasks that do not adhere to company policies.

Moderation, CIO foresight, and operational secrecy are the three key components of any good IT black ops campaign. In a perfect world, all formal procedures and policies should be followed 100 percent of the time. But since we live in a world and a marketplace that is constantly changing, there are indeed times when it’s necessary for the growth and conservation of any company that these rules be ignored. If a certain amount of flexibility isn’t tolerated in enterprise IT, you can expect that smaller, more nimble companies will swoop into changing markets and quickly erode your market share.

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batye   Black Ops IT: Getting the Job Done No Matter What   5/6/2014 1:11:51 AM
Re: The uniform
this days nothing is out of option ... how I see it... to each his own...
mejiac   Black Ops IT: Getting the Job Done No Matter What   5/5/2014 10:25:39 AM
Re: Hack Day

This had such goods results last year, that instead of having it once a year, they decided it to have it twice a year.

Last year, a team that managed one of the set of core applications were able to implemented fixes that provided a huge boost in performance (they "hacked" a fix that managed the data load).... and this was the winning team, others had various small fixes.
Henrisha   Black Ops IT: Getting the Job Done No Matter What   5/4/2014 12:19:09 PM
Re: Hack Day
@Mejiac, thanks for sharing! Wow, hack day sounds like such an interesting concept. I would like to ask, how has this approach worked for you and have there been concrete results (favorable ones, of course) stemming from this?
Nomi   Black Ops IT: Getting the Job Done No Matter What   4/30/2014 6:57:46 PM
Re: The uniform
@ David


Very good observations. I think to re - incorporate again would be not that much easy as its seem like. 
mejiac   Black Ops IT: Getting the Job Done No Matter What   4/30/2014 4:45:39 PM
Hack Day
Excellent Article Andy!!

At my current assignment, this client has what they call "hack day", which they allow all developers the opportunity to both exploit and submit enhancements to current systems, which would be queued to be pushed to product ASAP.

I think this approach allows for developers to not feel frustated of trying to get a line of code approved, and thus allow a safe way to get around the red tape.
David Wagner   Black Ops IT: Getting the Job Done No Matter What   4/30/2014 3:29:36 PM
Re: The uniform
@Andrew- I suspect it is, except for the reasons you outlined in your article-- the temptation to keep breakign the rules because it feels good.
Andrew Froehlich   Black Ops IT: Getting the Job Done No Matter What   4/30/2014 12:27:37 PM
Re: The uniform
Great question about migrating the project into a normal policy-driven rotation. There has to be a line in the sand that once you get to a specific and quantifiable point with the project, it rolls back into one that's driven by standard procedures and change control. These types of projects typically have a very defined goal and it's fairly easy to determine the stopping point.
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Andrew Froehlich   Black Ops IT: Getting the Job Done No Matter What   4/30/2014 12:24:51 PM
Re: The uniform
I think that there are plenty of people that would fully back your insistance of face paint and tactical gear!
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David Wagner   Black Ops IT: Getting the Job Done No Matter What   4/30/2014 12:15:19 PM
Re: The uniform
On a more serious note, i do think this is very important. To me it is like the concept of agile devlopment, but you realize that sometimes you need to be even more agile. 

But here's the question-- once the emergency is over, how do you re-incorporate the project into your normal routine? 
David Wagner   Black Ops IT: Getting the Job Done No Matter What   4/30/2014 12:14:06 PM
The uniform
@Andrew- I demand if we're going to use  the term "Black Ops IT" that when doing it, everyone paints their face and wears all black lke a real black op. 

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