Setting your IT objectives for 2014? Step away from the spreadsheet for a moment…

Football Fresh Start

“Martin Luther King, Jr. gave the ‘I have a dream’ speech, not the ‘I have a plan’ speech.”

Simon Sinek, Start With Why

Happy New Year and welcome back to work! Have you returned from your break with big plans? Are you full of new hope for 2014?

January is traditionally the time for fresh starts. It’s the month that we resolve things will be better, different, more efficient, we’ll make more money, become more successful, deliver more to our customers: this is the year we WILL SORT OUR SYSTEMS OUT.

In short, it’s the perfect time to kick off your IT transformation project. There’s a lot to do, and the question is, where to start?

Every successful IT project begins with clear objectives. Specific, measurable, accurate, realistic and timed. Great project goals are crafted with data, careful calculation, calendars and realistic budgets.

But there is another vital ingredient, and one that requires you to step away from the spreadsheet…vision.

Vision is something different, it’s a disruptive ‘what if?’, it’s what you imagine when you allow yourself to step back from the earthly details and allow yourself to dream a little.

“Dreams are extremely important. You can’t do it unless you can imagine it.”

George Lucas

And vision doesn’t just have to come from the top; a lot can be learned by engaging the wider team.

There is a problem here though: If you sit a group of IT professionals in a room in front of a whiteboard, and ask them to talk about something as nebulous as their dreams for the business, some of them may actually cry. There has to be another way.

Try this. Ask your colleagues: If your current IT systems, as they stand today, were a football team*, which team would they be? And which team would you like them to be?

You might get an answer something like this:

‘Right now I would say we are a promising League 2 team – Fleetwood Town. We have skilled players who are good in their own positions, but we don’t pass effectively and miss far too many opportunities to score. I’d like to be Everton – for that we’ll need some well established formations that we can always fall back on, more work on our communication, and have resources to bring in more specific talent where we need it”

It’s an idea. It’s not a plan. It’s certainly not a SMART objective, and it’s no substitute.

But actually, it’s not a bad rudimentary SWOT analysis of your business systems. More importantly, what it really is, is a great conversation starter. And it’s a good conversation to have for these reasons:-

  • It’s revealing – allowing people to use analogies frees them up to say what they think without the usual fear of saying the wrong thing/ being judged.
  • It’s creative/ disruptive – it’s a chance to look at the status quo from a new angle – great things come from creative and disruptive thoughts
  • It makes for a stronger team – Do this as a team exercise and everyone can have an input: a great business vision is one that a team shares.

Give it a go with your team this January. Once you have a vision of where you want to be, you can get to work on the plan to get there.

We’ll be sticking with the theme of fresh starts in our January Good Systems Newsletter, and putting together a guide to getting your IT project right from the beginning. If you are thinking about kicking off a project, no matter the size or budget, there are going to be some golden rules here you won’t want to miss. Sign up now to receive the newsletter. We hope you will join us.

Now, what if………?

*Of course not everyone is a football fan so you might want to compare a Palm Pilot to the iPhone. Ford Fiesta to Tesla etc. but the principles are the same

By Amy Grenham
6 January 2014
BusinessThe Good Systems Blog

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