Just a quick thought on an exercise to increase the cooperation, trust and engagement between traditional IT and OT (operational technology – (ICS/SCADA tech)) teams. Though it likely applies to just about any two technical teams, including IT and development, etc.
Here’s the idea: Host a Hack-a-thon!
It might look something like this:
- Invest in some abundant kits of LittleBits. These are like Legos with electronics, mechanical circuits and even Arduino/Cloud controllers built in. Easy, safe, smart and fun!
- Put all of the technical staff in a room together for a day. Physically together. Ban all cell phones, calls, emails, etc. for the day – get people to engage – cater in meals so they can eat together and develop rapport
- Split the folks into two or more teams of equal size, mixing IT and OT team members (each team will need both skill sets – digital and mechanical knowledge) anyway.
- Create a mission – over the next 8 hours, each team will compete to see who can use their smart bits set to design, program and proto-type a solution to a significant problem faced in their everyday work environments.
- Provide a prize for 1st and 2nd place team. Reach deep – really motivate them!
- Let the teams go through the process of discussing their challenges to find the right problem, then have them use draw out their proposed solution.
- After lunch, have the teams discuss the problems they chose and their suggested fix.Then have them build it with the LittleBits.
- Right before the end of the day, have a judging and award the prizes.
Then, 30 days later, have a conference call with the group. Have them again discuss the challenges they face together, and see if common solutions emerge. If so, implement them.
Do this a couple times a year, maybe using something like Legos, Raspberry Pis, Arduinos or just whiteboards and markers. Let them have fun, vent their frustrations and actively engage with one another. The results will likely astound you.
How does your company further IT/OT engagement? Let us know on Twitter (@microsolved) or drop me a line personally (@lbhuston). Thanks for reading!