Delivering Change

When you think of great products, what do you think of? Products that have altered the way office jobs are done (excel, outlook, DropBox), or changed the way we interface with computers and technology (iPhone). Hearing from the VP of Product at recently was an opportunity to hear from the head of one of the most impactful products present in the market today, as evidenced by the impact on politics around the


French president responding to petition

globe. This presentation concerned the organizational tools that the team at used which led to the successful creation of an entirely new product line, circa 2011, to support a major shift in‘s business model.

The problem facing was that the revenue source had been a pure B2B model, which was no longer viable. Meaning that the grass roots petition platform that exists today did not exist. It became clear to the leadership of the organization that the business model was no longer feasible and had to be changed due to external market factors. Nick (VP of Product) led this effort from the product side and by using a few different concepts and methodologies successfully led the team to create the product line which made what it is today.

Problems Faced

The main internal problems that the company faced in developing an entirely new product line were the following:

  1. Speed of Delivery: Slow progress towards product completion
  2. Alignment: Getting the organization to work in the same direction
  3. Focus: Inability to make meaningful progress towards the goals that have been set

In order to confront this problem, there were a few different tools that were utilized by the team at that stood out to me. The team  utilized some of the obvious efficiency levers, like automating tasks, but the strategic/organizational decisions are the most interesting.


As a previous product owner, one of the main frustrations regularly encountered was the inability to make forward progress due to all of the work needed to “keep the lights on” as it’s commonly phrased. made the conscious decision to focus solely on creating new features for a limited and focused period of time. That means no fixing of features that break (I assume other than P1’s). No devops working performance tuning. The whole organization fully focused on features.

One of the anecdotes shared that stuck with me was when it was mentioned that two college hires ended up working on a feature with the CTO. When you have an entire organization aligned behind a single goal, the ability to have people naturally move across, up, and down traditional power structures to achieve that goal seems to be a huge gain in creating innovative solutions. In addition to having more deliveries towards that single goal, the fact of the matter is that also comes the ability to see the pain points and what other teams are dealing with/issues they have.

Once the avalanche was done, Nick mentioned how devops had a much better understanding of the issues facing the application development team due to the fact that these devops developers had been doing feature work on the application. With this understanding they were then able to take these learnings and implement solutions that were able to make big impacts within the organization.

Shots on Goal

Anyone who has worked in an agile environment should be aware of this, but the affect that this had in the organization is worth mentioning. Specifically how deliberately this discussion was had with leadership. What Nick realized is that they were entering an entirely new market. Knowing this, he knew that it was unlikely that the organization would be able to accurately predict what features the new consumers would adopt in their product line without releasing many features and finding out what worked.

To that point, Nick organized his team to focus on flexing their speed muscle, as opposed to quality. Why deliver 10 perfect features when you could deliver 100 working features and have a much higher chance that the organization will strike gold? That strategy led to multiple success in the new product line, and an ability to conduct and test experiments faster than they thought possible under the previous paradigm which tried to achieve both speed and quality. When a team is focused on an immense effort, making demonstrable progress is usually one of the hardest/most difficult things. By focusing on speed, much faster feedback loops were enabled, with some of these features contributing to more than 20% revenue growth from the new product line.


Objective and Key Results methodology. Google used it. Intel used it, and countless other organizations. It’s not reasonable to think that an organization can deliver an entirely new product line and business model without complete organizational focus. Using OKRs was able to create a clear focus. As a result the teams were able to deliver on what is meaningful and impacts the bottom line, as opposed to working towards multiple objectives and goals that cause people to tug and pull against one another.


Great book which provides a history and overview of OKRs

Working in multiple organizations, I’ve noticed that people don’t know what to do when their are too many goals. Having the ability to walk into a room and point to a single goal means that the organization is more easily able to coordinate and implement. When there is no clear goal unnecessary road blocks, and fiefdoms tend to spring up and lead to the organization pulling in different directions getting in front of the accomplishment of organizational goals.

Operating teams using the above three strategies worked for Using some of these strategies has worked for other large and small organizations, and from what I’ve seen thus far in my career, could be used in many other organizations to transform the way products are delivered and impact the bottom line.

What Should Documentation Be?

The problems Business Intelligence organizations solve in organizations are generally the same. Pull some data out of somewhere, synthesize the data, analyze it, then create a picture of what is happening, what is going to happen, or what has happened. Working in small and large organizations, I’ve had the pleasure of seeing a variety of different processes used to deliver these insights. These range from the overbearing, and associated documentation that crush people’s productivity, to the lightweight that creates quicksand beneath teams feet through the lack of knowledge transfer.

Seeing the overbearing and the extremely light weight, there’s one conclusion I’ve arrived at concerning documentation…

Document as Little as Possible



Relevant literature

Don’t commit time to things that aren’t creating revenue or helping the business. Looking at IT projects, there is no doubt that the more documentation that there is, the less value there is. The perfect example came about when having a beer with a former co-worker.


It was brought up that the process at the company we both previously worked at had documentation that took longer to create then coding, testing, and implementing the change. Additionally, this painstakingly crafted documentation that the engineer had to spend time tracking down information for didn’t result in documents that would be useful to the team doing the work going forward. The process decreed that you must document X, Y, and Z in order to deploy the change/implementation so that’s what was done. The fundamental truth is that the “…benefit of having documentation must be greater than the cost of creating and maintaining it.”

Some people believe in the exact opposite of over documentation. Nothing should be documented. The code/implementation should speak for itself. This may work when you have a small size IT application the will always be managed by the same group of individuals (which likely won’t happen). Once you reach an application spanning multiple servers, teams, and databases the expectation for the code/implementation to “speak for itself” in a timely manner to those who have to report and get analytics out is unreasonable.

So, what’s being proposed in this rant? The only useful documentation that I’ve seen documents the “Why” and the “How”. Everything else doesn’t create value for the organization, as the cost to maintain and develop the documentation is too high.


Creating a BI Product entails connecting the business process to an application(s) or database(s). Depending on the environment that you’re working in, Inmon, Kimball, or something else entirely, you need to know the answer to why things in your system exist. The “Why” is important not only from a high leadership level, but also at a low technical implementation level. The “Why” statement done at the low level helps to ensure that a team is using previously created tools and implementations as designed. And if a change is made that goes against the original “Why”, it is intentional and by design.

As an example, working on the Vehicle Profitability by VIN project, the Data Architect created both Inmon (3-NF) and Kimball (dimensional reporting) structures on the project. The “Why” was made extremely apparent through documentation, so the teams knew how to use the current implementation to achieve their goal in the best way possible.

Are you importing new invoice data? That should go into the wholesale invoice structure so that it flows up in the existing fact that contains the revenue information for vehicles which our reports feed from. Why? Because we want a single source of truth for vehicle revenue.

When documentation providing the “Why” for technical implementations exists, it makes adding on and changing the existing processes and assets easier. As opposed to re-inventing the wheel over and over.



basic data flow diagram

So after we know why something exists, the other piece that is useful for documentation is the “How”. The “How” shouldn’t be step by step instructions, it should function like a high level map. Data Flow Diagrams are a great example of “How” documentation that I’ve found useful for Business Intelligence products. Armed with the Data Flow Diagram and the “Why” of the design, team members who need to report on, extend, maintain, or refactor a system will be able to make informed decisions.



Make It Useful

At the end of the day, documentation gets in the way of creating code/analysis/direct business value. So the argument for spending time creating documentation is hard to make when someone hasn’t experienced the pains associated with lack of documentation. Lack of architecture that makes sense, misreported numbers, time wasted building processes that do exactly what existing processes already do.

Without documentation, maintaining and using a system or process as intended is impossible. With documentation that is accessible, searchable, and focuses on the “How” and “Why”, organizations can make smart and informed decisions of where to spend time, how to tweak things, and how to get value from their assets.


Working For The Small Guys

I left my last job recently , by some rankings the 23rd largest company in the world, for a much smaller company. The general consensus from those who I talked to was that it would be good experience to have a change of pace, and many recommended a shift to a a smaller company.

With that said, I think I’ve settled in enough to pick out what I see as the advantages of working for a small company. Luckily for me, it appears that those I confided in gave me some good advice. So here we go. About four months in I’m going to give you what I see as the three best things that I’ve found working at a smaller company.

Clear Goals

Working for a smaller company, especially one the runs lean, means that the company needs to use resources as efficiently as possible.  This is evident in the fact that everyone knows what the goals of the company currently are. Instead of being lost in the back of the office doing menial work without visibility into how you are helping the company, it’s clear what problems the business is facing and how specific pieces of work fit in to accomplish the larger

In addition, clearly outlining the goals and objectives helps to build the feeling that teams are actually working together. In my experience, large companies have many objectives and everyone has a different idea on how to solve them. This isn’t a bad thing. What is a bad thing is that in pursuing these many ideas on how to solve some overarching problem, different teams in some instances actively work against one another’s interests to solve the same problem. All this with the hope that their solution is the one that gets noticed and creates a successful career.

The Chance to Get Your Hands Dirty

The lack of bureaucracy. I love it. Instead of having to fight through multiple approval processes and layers of pointless requests to get access to data/tools, you get the ability to solve problems however you would like (and pay for the consequences).

What types of problems? Well, real problems. Instead of trying to solve the problem of moving data from one place from another, or making a banner on a homepage appear differently, you are doing things that can have direct impact. Like what? In my teams case it’s creating customer segmentation strategies, or delivering insights on data that never before has been seen.

The best part? Instead of performance being judged on how quickly a problem is solved with a pre-defined approach, it is judged on the results. Instead of the mantra “How fast did you deliver to specifications”, the mantra is “How much value did you deliver“.

Lots of Opportunity to Push the Envelope

Looking at the points above, this is fairly obvious. New ideas are easier to implement in smaller organizations. Instead of having to fight with layers of process, you are up against reality. What do I mean by that? I mean that instead of fighting people over nothing, you are fighting the limits of technology, hardware, and business processes.

The only limit is your own lack of knowledge and passion.

A Framework for Innovation

Creating change. A fun subject, and an admirable goal according the American Ethos and the media our society has spawned. Even though the innovative ideas may go against the grain or the way that things are currently being done, many consider it a virtue to pursue


The macro effect of innovation on a company

them. With so much positive emphasis on innovation in our culture, why is it so difficult?

There thousands (if not millions) of reasons why this is the case and I couldn’t hope to answer in a short blog post. Looking at the reverse of that, “how do successful innovations occur?” many insights are available. There are many theories with many names, but reading many of these there is a correlation across the different materials which boil down to two things from what I’ve found and read.

  1. Let people know how the innovation will effect them
  2. Make things easy for the people who are going to be using the innovation

Switch lays out the best framework (in my opinion) for accomplishing these two goals.

Framework for Change

The basic idea is conveyed through the idea that every person can be pictured like a rider on a top of an elephant going down a trail. In order to change where the rider is going to end up, there is the ability to alter three things. You may have guessed it. We can change the rider, the elephant, and the trail.

The Rider: In the idea of the rider and the elephant, this is the logic. Everyone has logic (although some riders may be weaker than others) that helps to form how they behave. The rider’s the part of the person who when starting a new habit, like running in the morning, will cause people to set an alarm.

the-rider-the-elephant-and-the-path_50290b0771b02_w1500.pngThe Elephant: Emotions and subconscious drive. At the end of the day, the elephant dictates where the rider is going to go. The average ~150 pound rider will only be able to control a 13,000 pound animal for so long before coming exhausted.

The elephant is the reason why the planned morning run will be cancelled by multiple pushes on the snooze button. The  elephant is also the reason why people work 90 hour work weeks and are excited to do so.

The Path: The final component for creating change is the external environment in which every individual operates. These are the external forces which effect behavior. Shaping the external forces and how they act upon elephants and their riders, getting the rider to move towards the desired end location.

All in all, it’s pretty straightforward right? Well, it is definitely much easier to conceptualize and talk about then it is to implement. So many people fail, myself included, to implement all three at the same time, leading to great ideas being dropped to the wayside.

For those who want to change things for the better, hopefully this framework can help you get to actualization of innovation.

Inspiration vs Manipulation

A few weeks ago I was lent a copy of the book Start with Why. The ideas around the use of manipulation vs inspiration to change human behavior is one of the ideas that struck a chord with me thus far. Looking at companies today, there is a clear differentiation in the way that organizations position themselves based upon where they fall with when using manipulation vs inspiration.


These are the companies that get the best employees, deliver innovative solutions, and much of the time have higher margins and growth compared to competitors. How is this achieved? You guessed it. They have a great and inspiring vision of why they do what they do.

spacex mission.PNG

This vision and end goal above is lofty, and certainly something the people (especially rocket designers) can aspire to. Having such a vision for where the company is headed has apparently worked to Spacex’s advantage. Spacex has managed to steal significant market share from the much older Arianespace. There there must be something behind Spacex’s success.


The focus on a lofty vision of “why” an organization does what is does not only drives profits, but also clear and concise decision making and motivations for all who are involved with the company. Driving behavior towards a goal that is inspiring and internally motivated is much more effective in the long-term  compared to manipulations.


Price, promotions, fear, aspirations. These are the tactics that are potential changers of human behavior. When making use of these strategies, a company has most likely lost sense of why it exists. The reason for this? When a company is offering to cut price, or market to customer aspirations, there is no longer an internal motivating factor that drives the company. The company compass for decision making has been lost.

The great (or terrible depending on your perspective) example of this is General Motor’s use of promotions to drive sales. In the 1990’s General Motors, along with other US auto manufacturers relied on offering of sales incentives to retain market share when faced by an onslaught of foreign automakers. By taking this route, the US automakers effectively weakened their brands. This may have allowed the automakers to retain higher market share short-term, but it obviously didn’t help the long-term growth and profitability of the company.

Manipulations create addictions for companies that may create some short-term value, but it is at the expense of harming the organization in the long-term. The more fear, promotions, prices cuts, and aspirations a company uses to sell products the cheaper the brand perception will be.

Bottom line, knowing why a company exists provides in internal locus of control which has been proven to be a motivating force compared to the use of manipulations. There’s a reason that Apple customer’s pay more than a 20% premium compared to competitor products, and it’s due to knowing why.

Down with Vertical Database Architecture

The goal of gathering data can be broken down into a combination of any of the following free. Understanding what has happened, what is happening, or project what will happen. When getting answers to these questions, as long as the answer is obtained, why does it matter how the answer was obtained?

Getting a view into this information can be done many different ways, and with the products available on the market can be done for free and with minimal IT know how. There is a time and a place to pay a premium on IT projects to obtain the capabilities that Skyscraper_Diagramnone of your competitors will have. When a solution needs to be scale-able and tailored to your unique needs.

This is when architecture comes in.

Just like any structure, a database architecture can be flat or tall. What is the difference? To
run with analogy of comparing database architecture to buildings, a skyscraper (vertical) is much more complex to build and maintain compared to a house (horizontal).


A horizontal architecture can be pictured like a suburb. This translates to a house that is commissioned by you that is easily customizable and suited to your needs and wants. Do you want a pool? Easy. Do you want a larger living room or a smaller kitchen? That can be done.

Taking this analogy from building skyscrapers to databases, a flat architecture means that your data is displayed from a single (or as few as possible) levels. It is much easier to understand how the wiring, plumbing, lighting, etc. were put into a house when compared to a skyscraper. Additionally, when you want to install a pool, it’s much easier to install and maintain than a pool on the 23rd floor of a high rise.

Architecture Diagram


A vertical architecture means many structural layers in the database, and with it comes complexity. The difference between the physical skyscraper and databases? Skyscrapers are generally created when there is no more land to build flat, this law of physics doesn’t apply to databases.

Why would anyone build a vertical architecture than? In my experience time and resource constraints effect (two thirds of the magic time-resource-quality triangle), short-term thinking.

Benefits of Horizontal

  1. Decrease in cost: Less people to maintain complex solutions, and more time spent creating value for you.
  2. Higher quality: More visibility into what is happening where. Instead of having to dive through and learn how everything was built, people playing with the data only have to learn specific portions which they are interested in.
  3. Faster delivery: The final win on a flat architecture, is speed of delivery. By reducing complexity people spend less time learning, and more time creating value. While in the immediate you may save time in the short-term with a vertical architecture, you will pay dearly in the long-term.

Social Media from the Seasoned

history-of-social-mediaHuman history began 4,000 BCE. Social media in its modern form? Started in 1997 with the site Six Degrees. Putting these two timelines together may seem ridiculous, and admittedly is a bit, but there is a point. With social media being such a recent innovation compared to many skills still heavily used and valued by society today, such as accounting, what can social media media professionals teach us about this roughly 20 year old skill set?

I’ve had the opportunity to hear from industry experts from McGarrah Jessee, Splash Media Group LLC, and other both large and small social media marketing firms. These individuals have covered everything from creating useful branded content to establishing client relationships (and more). Although a new field, there is definitely a large group of driven individuals working towards continuously evolving and growing the usefulness of social media for business. I’m going to attempt to encapsulate a few of the important points at an extremely high level.

Biggest Applicable Advice

When interacting with people on a day to day basis, what do you prefer? A person who talks about themselves and what they have accomplished, or people who provide valuable advice and interesting conversation? Well, social media experts have realized that businesses can create a relationships with people that represent the latter through content marketing.

Content marketing seems to be a phrase that all of these social media professionals, across multiple industry and business sizes, have been repeating or hinting at. “Make it interesting” or “Make your content something people want to read”. With the deluge of ads that people see everyday, and the myriad of ways to avoid seeing these adds, advertisers now have to convince people that they want to spend time looking at ads. This same concept can be applied everywhere.

Whenever communicating with others, be genuine, interesting and most importantly create value so that people want to listen. Sticking with these pillars can go a long way.

The days of useless and noisy banner advertising are over.

Attributes of Social Media Professionals

There seem to be two types of primary skills that are needed to be successful at social media marketing. The first, an analytical ability to extrapolate data into stories and actionable items for advertising. What do I mean?

Building profiles of the target customer, measuring what works and what doesn’t, basically collecting every piece of data that is available and having the ability to develop strategies around these data points. Looking at Hops and Grain, a local brewery, the social media strategist has been able to learn from data and create a social media profile and brand that people find interesting and go out of their way to view.

Looking at the below pictures can you see a common theme? Outdoorsy, lifestyle type photos that sneak in the beer and branding into the picture in somewhat subtle ways.

Hops and Grain insta.PNG

The second major attribute I noticed was that all of the individuals, no matter how data driven they are, seem to be creatives. What I mean is that these professionals love coming up with new and clever ideas.

This seems to be needed due to social media being a medium that can produce widely varied results. Content must be instantaneous, in the moment, and clever, or risk becoming a Red Lobster. If a professional can’t come up with new ideas that capture people’s attention, success in social media is unlikely.

Quick Takeaways

  1. At the end of the day, using social media as a microphone doesn’t work.
  2. Be consistent online (and in life)…but really, nothing disappears once it’s online.
  3. Don’t feed the trolls. There are toxic followers, just like their are toxic customers. Be aware of who with and how you’re spending time on social media.

After hearing these different speakers, I don’t have plans to apply these learnings directly on pursuing a career in social media. Luckily these lessons can be applied outside of conducting advertising for a business client. I plan to apply the concepts to my career and developing a personal professional brand.

Who You Should Hire

Every person is hired to perform or deliver something that you value. Considering the simplicity of this statement, why is it so hard? Why do large companies continuously hire dead weight?

It may sound like these are baseless questions, but looking at the numbers there is a serious problem with the talent that companies are hiring. In a macro analysis study by Gallup, 68.5% of employees were found to be disengaged at work. What does this mean? Gallup State of the American Workplace.PNGThat means in the US if you manage a team of 10 people or have 9 coworkers, almost 7 of those people will be “dead weight” employees. This means that these employees are “…essentially ‘checked out’. They’re sleepwalking through their work day…” Even worse, of these 7 employees, 1-2 of these employees will be actively disengaged. These actively disengaged employees cost US business an estimated $450-$550 BILLION a year.
So how can hiring this dead weight be avoided?

The biggest indicator of how someone is going to perform is based upon two things. Personality and willingness to learn. Identifying the personality traits that are needed in the job and sussing out a potential candidate’s personality is up to the person hiring, but with a shift in thinking and process can be done more effectively.

Make a Biography

At the end of the day, hiring someone just based upon interviews is flawed. With the candidate sitting in front of you most likely trying to sell themselves, how can we get to the core of someone’s personality and goals to ensure that they align to the organization?

According to Praxent’s Tim Hamilton, adapting the methodology from Who, the goal of an interview process should be to gather as much data on a candidate as possible. The focus should be on a broader scope than the professional life or face that is put forward in an interview. By asking about the details of someone’s past and constructing a story of the overall trajectory of an individuals life, trends and characteristics can be found that reveal personality traits that a person may not be explicitly aware of (or unwilling to reveal). The more data points that are able to gleaned from the gathering of this biography, the more confident that you can be that the person who you are interviewing has the personality traits that the team needs. By the time an individual is going through the hiring process, it is reasonable to assume that the personality of the individual is relatively solidified so the usefulness of the biography should be high. If a candidate doesn’t have the right personality now, it is unlikely anyone will be able to change or mold the candidates personality once hired.

Importance of Learners

From the details presented here (and other research), the finding is that all the types of employees learning on the job had a high correlation to job performance when compared to other variables. The implication? Hiring individuals who can and want to learn is the most likely way to hire top job performers. This may seem obvious, but what is not correlated to job performance and how does that match up to the regular hiring process?

Picture of Job Performance PredictorsThe correlation of job-performance with experience is .18 in this study, and in other studies as low as .03. Meaning that one of the most highly weighted factors (experience) that is brought in to asses candidates is not the most predictive of job performance.

If an organization conducted the best interview process ever and hired the most experienced and educated individuals, the hiring would be relying on a flawed methodology that doesn’t accurately account for and weigh the real predictors of job performance.

So what can we do?

Rely on measuring what is proven to lead to high job performance in the hiring process. Don’t heavily weigh an applicants experience other than to ensure the required technical skills. Ensure that the candidate has a goal and personality fit with what is needed for the position. Create an organization comprised of learners. Construct a biography, ascertain personality traits from this, and determine whether the candidate is willing to learn based upon their personality and goals. This may not be a sure-fire methodology, but it seems to be the best way currently available to ensure that the billions of loses incurred every year due to disengaged employees will not include a contribution from your organization.

Why Storytelling is Required

Storytelling and marketing is something that seems to be undervalued by technical individuals in the information technology field. The reason why I’m talking about this? Recently at SXSW in Austin, Contently hosted a talk where Shane Snow discussed the power of storytelling. While the audience attendance was a definitely skewed towards the marketing industry, the concepts that were presented can be applied to any idea or presentation that technical people are trying to sell to customers, managers, or co-workers.

Story Continuation

Shane, in his talk, brought up some interesting statistics that prove a powerful point. People tend to gravitate towards stories that build on existing lore and story lines. The area that was pointed to as proving his point? Movies. Shane mentioned a metric that can be used to demonstrate this. Movie revenue. The question is, does Shane’s theory prove true?Spiderman Movie Layout

If you look at the above, grabbed from The Numbers, it clearly shows a relative trend of decreasing sales revenue for Spider-Man movies. On close examination though, the biggest drop in revenue (~15%) when comparing a movie to its predecessor occurred between Spider-Man 3 and The Amazing Spider-Man…When the continuous story line from the first  three Spider-Man movies was broken.

Jurrassic park - Revenue

But…doing some spot checking, also reveals the opposite to be true. Looking at Jurassic Park’s history of revenues, it appears that sequels where the story line is broken can make just as much (or much more). In order to prove out this theory, it appears that more analysis would be needed to prove this point objectively…Maybe this is an oddity with re-boots of classic series?

Regardless, in SOME cases, when movies break from a continuous narrative there appears to be increased risk of people abandoning interest in the movie/idea.


Additionally, Shane mentioned the power of familiarity. When traveling abroad and being around unfamiliar scents, sounds, and tastes, people tend to gravitate towards the known. The perfect example that many can relate to? Beer. Heineken is sold in over 170 countries. When someone is given the choice between a familiar brand that may even be disliked and an unfamiliar brand, people generally choose the known brand that has familiarity. Thinking about the odd concoctions one might encounter when travelling abroad, what would you rather have?

Complexity of Content

The last point that was presented? The easier that content is to read and understand, the more popular it will be. Mark Twain has books that come up at around a 5th grade reading level according to Scholastic’s system. Even the more modern classics, depending on your point of view, come up at around the same reading level. The lesson? It may make us feel good communicating with big words, but it is not the most effective way to communicate.

So What?

At the end of the day, while these ideas are interesting, what can we learn? Everyone is trying to sell stories every day. In technology/knowledge work, it’s a new design or approach to solve a problem. These strategies can be used to communicate an idea effectively and gain the support of others when combined with logical arguments. Establish a narrative that creates a vision and compelling continuous story line. Do it in a way that anyone could understand, from developers to directors, technical to non-technical. Establish a brand, identifier, or name that people can familiarize themselves with. If technical people peddled ideas that have been implemented half as well as they implement them, it would be to everyone’s advantage. Playing to people’s logic works usually…playing to logic and human nature? Couldn’t hurt.

Why is IT Always an Issue?

“IT sometimes forgets that we are a car company, not a tech company.”

I’m not quite sure how many people have heard a similar statement from clients (replace car with any product). Never before had I heard a statement that so neatly wraps up the issues and frustrations that I believe many people have with IT.

IT ComicWhat’s the core of the issue? IT is seen as a blocker and difficulty rather than an enabler. Why can’t things be simpler, or easier? Why does it take so long to do what I do now in excel with a few clicks? These are all valid questions. The easy answer? You don’t understand what we are accomplishing here and the implications of what you’re asking, delivered in an appropriate tone.

At the end of the day results are what matter. There isn’t a 100% clear solution to the issue of IT organizations and departments consistently not meeting expectations, but in order to keep clients and customers happy there is one clear action that can be done. Communicate with the client and don’t surprise them with bad news. There are countless articles on how to solve this communication divide and deliver bad news, but at the center of any project or product people delivering intangible software products need to shift the conversation from “can’t be done” to discussion of what can. At the end of the day, explaining how something can’t be delivered is not a conversation that will create a situation where any part wins. What will, is establishing realistic and deliverable goals that will assist in solving the pains of the client.


Clear communication from IT

IT may not be the business of a company, but IT should be the ones opening up new paths for a company to walk down. Not obfuscating the path to a smarter and more efficient business.