The Realization Was The Hardest Part, Or “What I Learned In 2017”

“Drive thy business, or it will drive thee.” Benjamin Franklin

Measuring and managing is an all-year round activity, however as the year winds down there is an uptick in reviewing the happenings and progress of the prior 12 months. I’m thankful to still be learning and experiencing new things.

An important reminder for me this year, and an important learning for technology leaders and professionals is that the realization of the idea, the recommendation, the change, the deployment; the realization is the hardest part.

Here are five learnings (or reminders) to help with the tough work of implementation; so as to realize the benefit of ideas.

  1. Legacy technology debt is a lagging indicator of other debt: talent and process. It is not possible to discuss issues with process, talent, or technology without talking about issues with process, talent AND technology. The three are forever connected. IT professionals ability to influence decisions to eradicate (or at least mitigate) tech debt will be enhanced by being able to quantitatively and quaBlogGraphicTablelitatively assess and discuss all three. Realizing the move of legacy technology debt to the rearview mirror requires moving all debt to the rearview.
  2. Dedicated resources are critical to success. Do not start a project without the minimum viable set of resources – all resources including stakeholders, IT professionals, necessary vendor resources such as implementation partners. Also don’t forget minimum viable project infrastructure such as space, budget, governance, hardware, software. Why “minimum viable?” Because you likely don’t need everything lined up to complete the project at the beginning, but you need enough to productively start and delivery through initial phases and/or sprints.
  3. Leaders should delegate, but not disappear. Empowered personnel should be given the accountability and resources to deliver value. However, leaders shouldn’t set up empowerment then evaporate. Be interested in status, available for escalations – actively support the emerging value creation that comes through productive and predictable delivery. Among the benefits of this is employee engagement and no surprises.
  4. Recommendation without implementation provides fractional value. The most elegant, well-thought out, exhaustively researched and accurate recommendation in the world is not worth the bytes of which it is comprised if it does not lead to value. Organizations must be prepared and know how to move to implementation and deliver quickly. Repeated recommendation without implementation actually negates value, as time-to-market is missed, innovation starts to lag, and employee engagement degrades (the “why should I bother” syndrome).
  5. Humility is under-rated. As I wrote in a prior post, hubris leads to barrier conditions. I have witnessed and learned, once again, that excessive confidence and pride are inevitably root causes of chaos, confusion, delay – and failure to realize value. Leaders should strive for humility, not hubris.

There are many colleagues to whom I owe thanks throughout the year, from BlueLine Associates to #CIOChat and beyond. You’ve challenged and learned along with me. (You know who you are.)

Sincere best wishes to all, for a peaceful and successful 2018.

“For last year’s words belong to last year’s language and next year’s words await another voice.” T.S. Eliot

Worth considering:

At year-end, we get data on everything from top movies and songs to company financial results. MIT published a list of 10 breakthrough technologies with staying power. All have profound implications to the way we live and work, from autonomous trucks to reversing paralysis.

2017 was the year of the billion-dollar disaster. The infographics in this article depict the location and estimated costs of hurricanes, wildfires, hail, flooding and more, illustrate the importance of technology in depicting information in reader-friendly ways. One can’t help but hope 2018 doesn’t yield similar or worse results.



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