“Just DO it” – BIG mistake in technology projects

I’m a professional technology “enabler”. Picture Walt-Disney tie, tank-top, open sandals, science fiction novel, pizza boxes … But seriously, in that privileged role, I can observe “Business People” (clients, joint venture partners etc.), and see how their sentiment changes over the life of a technology project. There are two typical profiles, one for well-architected projects, and the other for “the rest”. Lets start with the baddies:

Badly Architected Technology Project – Typical sentiment

Initial enthusiasm, then confusion and regretEnthusiasm – You have a vision of a bright future, and hope the technology guys will “Just DO it” Confusion – Early stages go well, and some demo’s and mock-ups looked great, but after a while the tech team go quiet, and start saying things like “it’s 90% there”. Tangible results get less frequent, and silence starts to reign. You start to wonder why they haven’t asked more questions ? Regret – When you ask about a seemingly small change, and they say “we’ll need to start again”. You realise that the whole thing is shaky and feels like it’s built on sand.  (You probably know the rest).

Well Architected Technology Project – Typical sentiment

Positive Sentiment following some initial frustration Enthusiasm – You have a vision of a bright future, and hope the technology guys will “Just DO it” Frustration – All you seem to get is question after question . Why is there nothing to actually see yet? Why do they keep asking about how the system could grow? They keep talking about Architecture and  Scalability and they focus on seemingly rare use-case scenarios.. they tell you there is loads happening “below the surface”, and to be patient. They make Sheldon and the guys from Big-Bang theory look impulsive. Revelation – You eventually start to see something tangible (whew). It looks great, and not only that, but they have built some stuff in which you hadn’t thought about (!). You hesitantly mention requirements which your colleagues/investors are asking for, and they say “sure .. we’ll configure that in”. You suddenly realise, the system needs to be multi-lingual .. “We’ve thought of that, it’s there already” they say. Fast-forward 12 months. You’ve got a great piece of technology people are raving about, the market has stretched it in ways you couldn’t predict, and the tech guys have remained relaxed. You’re exceeding your commercial goals, and the vision is being realised, and you’ve won awards for innovation. MORAL: If you are a business person, and your technology enablers are asking LOADS of questions. It’s probably a really good sign. (If you have a great vision, and want to ensure it commercialises, ping me here)

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