The Circular firing squad

A confession

I have a huge confession to make. I have been delivering enterprise IT systems for over 25 years (that’s not it :). Often, those systems required training programs, adoption teams, and change management programs. This is the norm, so I thought it was just how things ‘had to be’.

Users tried to tell me that the countless systems they must learn, with their different terminology, abstractions, and UIs, overwhelmed them.  One person told me ‘You made some things simpler, but you made simple things more complex!’  And when I one-day asked about the sticky notes on a monitor bezel, I heard ‘You’ve given me all these pieces but I have to make it all work together.’  This caused them to resist new apps and releases, often forget to properly utilize features and functions, and generally, misbehave from my un-empathic point of view.  Just recently I heard ‘the bane of my existence is keeping my deals up to date in the CRM’…

In fact, and here comes the confession, when users complained or refused, we often called them stupid, or lazy.  IT folks, come clean with me here.  How many times have we blamed our users’ intellect when they struggled with our software.  How often have we maligned their work ethic when utilization issues surfaced.  How often did we say at least to ourselves and often colleagues that ‘they have no clue what it takes to do what we do’…

The irony in this whole thing is that while I’m vilifying my own customer, they are calling me slow, unresponsive, the “no” team, etc.  So they are doing the same thing!  

We are needlessly blaming each other while we are all trying our best, thus the circular firing squad.  This has to stop. 

In time, I came to realize that “people, process, technology” really means forcing people to learn complex technologies to get only somewhat automated processes.  I also learned that the business can talk faster than even the best developer in the world can code, so IT will never catch up.  If we are going to fix this, and get me off the hook, we must find a different approach.

Krista is that different approach.

So if we in IT can never keep up with the business’ mouth, why are we continuing to try?  The first step in bringing a new approach is that the business builds its own apps.  They know what they need, and if they don’t or need to adapt, they are empowered to do something about it.

Now before you think I’m talking about shadow IT, I mean nothing of the sort.  If business units just hire developers then we just moved the problem, we didn’t solve it.  We have to build apps and automation in such a way that knowing the business domain is all that is required to construct the app.  And not typical, IT-ugly apps.  Apps that integrate people and technology simply and naturally.

And the second, equally important, aspect of the right approach is that IT must continue to own the systems of record and critical services that actually deliver the business’ core functions like ERP, supply chain, CRM, security, and many more.  There is a business-critical role for IT to ensure availability, stability, and compliance of these systems.  And, of course, to provide an environment to enable the business to build its automation workflows.  This is where Krista comes in.

Consider a different approach. One that better empowers both business teams and the IT organization. You will never think of programming the same way again.

John