Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Root Of All IT Problems - Cost: Free

Simplification and perspective.

The lack of, that is.

I know how it is. We all get caught up in the day-to-day fire fighting. Business requirements change. Timeline warp. Scope creep.

The result is...

The endless, painful cycle of the treatment of symptoms. Not problems. Not root causes.

Ad hoc changes. Lots of 'em. Without any pro-active design. No big picture. High level thinking? Ha!

There's no time for any of that.

Then we either throw up our hands in frustration and run far far away. Or we hire an outside consultant that (we hope) will provide us with some much needed perspective (we know we need it we just don't know how else to get it). Consultants sell, when it comes down to it, hope and perspective -- and they are generally called in when we're fresh out of it.

Or we throw more bodies at the situation. But we're not used to letting people sit and "think" without any activity - we have fires to fight after all... we can't afford that luxury!

Or maybe we'll buy new gadgets to help us out. But they add more complexity, unknowns, and risks. Oh, and stuff for somebody to learn to apply appropriately. (Not to mention that we should have probably taken the time to make sure we understood what we were buying beforehand...)

I'm pretty lazy. That is, I don't like to do work I can avoid if at all possible. This includes having to tax my brain to work through complex problems.

It isn't that I'm not good at it. It's that I'd much rather apply my brain to other things... or at least make sure it's available for the next problem to come along...

For the longest time, this worried me. Until I realized an interesting habit it had ingrained in me as a result.... When I'm faced with a problem to solve, a new situation, or something else that smells of brain work -- I, without hesitating, click into "How can I make this situation as simple as possible because I sure as hell don't want keep thinking so hard about it if I can avoid it?". It's sort of like the situation where you know somebody who is known to "always be searching for the angle".

My angle is: "How in the heck can I simplify whatever the heck it is that I'm trying to do because I'm sure as well not interested in working that hard on it day after day?"

These days, with many of my consulting engagements, I'm called in to eliminate a specific problem... or make something possible. In the former, probably 9 times out of 10, there is a high probability that the "specific problem" is likely to be best solved by ignoring the known problem and tackling the underlying situation that resulted in it...

Which is usually where simplification comes in. And a healthy application of perspective - a clean approach - which is easier for me to apply than the prior folks since I have the benefit of hindsight -- but no less valuable to the client.

Simplify. MAKE the time. Make your IT infrastructure as simple as it can be. You do NOT really need an outsider to do this -- hopefully (but sometimes you do, and that's okay too).

Best of luck in your endeavors,


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