I was just listening to a passionate TED talk about innovation. Carl Bass is making a case to break the rules.
“I’m running a project that changes the e-mail infrastructure for our organisation.”
That little sentence is loaded with assumptions and uses a language that is convenient for me and not for my audience. Let’s look at it in some detail:
- Who knows what “e-mail infrastructure” means? –> IT technical minded people, geeks and nerds. In other words I’m talking a language that the people understand who are doing the job.
- I’m using e-mail, says the salesman, what does it mean for me?
- When is it happening?
- What is actually changing?
You can easily see that list of questions will grow quite quickly. And those questions are fantastic. You need them to create a good communication plan.
I always knew the elephant in the room means there is a real problem or issue here. Nobody is addressing it directly and everybody is tip toeing around it. One day I wanted to know and discovered that a lot of people had no idea. George, who knows a lot of these things, told me this:
White elephants were considered sacred in Siam and laws protected them from labor. Receiving a gift of a white elephant from the king was simultaneously both a blessing and a curse. A blessing because the gift was a sign of the king’s favour, and a curse because the elephant had to be retained, could not be put to much practical use, and was expensive to maintain.
White elephants are symbols for things where the value is outweighed significantly by its upkeep. However, the value holder of the white elephant doesn’t realise the burden and it may be difficult to talk to him (or her for that matter) about it. There is the possibility it is being done on purpose. And there is only one way to find out and address it.
I work in ICT for more than 20 years. It’s an ever changing and always evolving field. And I ask myself, are we different than other business areas? Initially I would say yes. The pace of ICT is unmatched. Then, I turn around and remember the day I started at my current company. An elderly lady was sitting on the factory floor and used a hand driven machine making coils. Admittedly that is more then 12 years back. Although, when I walk into production these days SMD (surface mount devices) machines put tiny electronic parts onto printed circuit boards at a phenomenal speed and accuracy. The change these guys have experienced is no less to ICT.
What has this to do with strategy? Winding back say 3 to 5 years how would we have prepared ourselves for the today’s future? What were our plans then? Did our vision then match what we have implemented today? We got here, we know that. Did we arrive in planned manner or incidental? Does it matter?
Everybody hates distractions. They annoy the crap out of busy people. Just yesterday I had one person telling me that he is falling behind with his work schedule because of distractions. “How do you do it?”, he said, “I just stopped you doing what you were immersed in. And still you don’t seem angry about it.”
Let’s step back.
You are working on an important task where other people depend on. The phone rings. You pick it up, some one has a problem and thought you were the best person to help. 10 minutes later you pick up were you left your task. It takes some time to get back into that train of thought. A knock at the door. “Excuse the interruption”, the person says, “I’m looking for Joe. Has he moved office?” You slowly get annoyed. Even these brief 2 minutes cost you much more than that. You look at the watch and at your calendar, 15 minutes until the budget meeting starts. You are not going to complete the current task before that. No point of starting again. You check your emails instead and add another 3 distraction tasks to your list. Just enough time before the meeting to tell your boss how busy you are.
It’s like everybody holding you back, 2 steps forward and one back. Right? Continue reading