Updated: Feb 5
IT folks are notorious for over-thinking, over-designing, and over-complicating things. Oftentimes, implementing a minimum viable product and evolving it through small iterations through time is far more superior than delivering something perfect after 2 years. Fail fast, succeed. Have a clear road-map and follow it through, and when there are road-blocks — do course-corrections and seek alternative routes.
This article is a sequel to Fast IT (where I delved into why traditional IT is slow and gave some insights on how we can combat them). In this article, I will walk you through why not having a “Just do IT!” attitude is detrimental to your organization and will try to offer some suggestions on making the best possible decisions without getting caught with your pants down. “Whenever you see a successful business, someone once made a courageous decision.” -- Peter F. Drucker (the founder of Modern Management).
The main problem that most traditional IT teams have is dealing with their own internal demons to make a decision. This gets even worst when they need to consider the universal impact of that decision at hand, the status quo, and the bureaucratic protocols they need to adhere to. As Victor Hugo wrote in his famous novel Le Miserables, “The straight line, a respectable optical illusion which ruins many a man.” So how can one avoid analysis-paralysis? Perhaps, the guiding principle of “it is better to take a wrong decision, then make course corrections afterward” is applicable here. Of course, if you made all the factual analysis and considered the most important and relevant things, then there’s a pretty good chance that you’ll make the right decision. That is, by far, the best decision you can take, but the second-best — is a wrong decision. Again, so long as you’ve done the necessary due diligence to understand the facts and the potential impacts but still made the wrong decision – then accept it and do the necessary course corrections as soon as you realize your fault. The worst thing you can do is not to take any decision at all. IT is not a perfect science; it is, in fact, a very volatile one. What is true today may be wrong tomorrow. A leader in a magic quadrant today may fall behind tomorrow. A hype today may be obsolete tomorrow. There are just so many things to consider in this fast-paced digital world and yes — taking the right decision is not an easy task.
So, what can you do if you need to choose between the devil and the deep blue sea? Most traditional IT teams would rather take the deep blue sea and drown. Why? They believe in archaic dogmas, beliefs, and traditions. They believe in the devil and eternal damnation. First of all, “Inferno and the devil” were just a product of Dante's creative imagination and then monetized by Hollywood. These unfounded fears make people take poor judgment calls, inhibit them from moving forward, and bring them to the point of cognitive paralysis. “You can't make decisions based on fear and the possibility of what might happen” – Michele Obama. The problem with this situation is that they don’t drown alone; oftentimes, they drag the whole organization with them – and that would be a Titanic catastrophe.
In determining what is important and critical to your organization, you need to know your company's top-line goals. Typically, in the end, it boils down to increasing profitability; since increasing throughput/sales/price/market share, reducing cost, and reducing inventory are all part of the same equation. You cannot be blind-sided by your quest to reduce cost; you negatively impact sales, production or lose key strategic customers. Without loyal customers and good products, you will perhaps not be in business at all. People pay extra for prime and exceptional service, and this is what makes or breaks a company.
One of the fastest evolving IT services nowadays is the convergence of audio, video, and general collaboration services. During this global pandemic, the rat race for UCaaS (Unified Communication as a Service) tools has never been more relevant. The battle between Zoom, Webex, MS Teams vs. traditional communication systems has never been more intense. The choice for many is obvious, but it all depends on their specific needs, how receptive the organization is to the change, how much they are willing to pay, and most importantly — is the overall IT Infrastructure foundation ready? Imagine implementing a unified collaboration system where your phone, audioconferencing, videoconferencing system, and other collaboration services are dependent on a 1.5 Mb network without a back-up link and power protection? Unifying collaboration services in the same network only makes sense if and only if you can guarantee the service's resilience. Otherwise, it will be a “hará Kiri,” a suicide mission diving into the deep blue sea without even a flotation device. The problem with this equation is that “Rome wasn’t built in one day” — if you did not build the necessary IT Infrastructure foundation ahead of time, you would find yourself a year or two delayed in your project without even starting it yet. So, now when somebody asks why traditional IT is always 2 years late? The lack of a solid roadmap that allows for quick course correction is the root of all evil. As Yogi Berra once said, “If you don’t know where you’re going, you might wind up someplace else.” This is very true in IT.
“Just do IT!” does not mean taking haphazard decisions, but taking calculated risks, considering all the facts, conditions, and using top-line business priorities and goals as your North Star to guide you in those obscure decision-making processes. Consider “stop-gaps” as valid solutions to stop the bleeding. It's not about making the right choice. It's about making a choice and making it right.