My mother is a minimalist always dejunking everything. As a child I wanted to save everything from doodles to rocks. This desire stockpile everything flew right in the face of my mothers life style. She devised a simple solution to this problem provide a container that limited what we can save. She went to Ikea and came back with four small boxes. After providing a box to each child she explained you could only save what fit in the box. This provided us freedom of choice while limiting and containing the clutter. I was given my box thirty seven years ago and I still have it. As you can see it’s starting to overflow so I had to dejunk it.
How it related to IT
This process got me thinking about information technology. IT first started with developers who wrote code and operated the infrastructure. These early pioneers were very aware the expected business outcome from their job. As the complexity of information systems rose naturally specialization began to appear. With each layer of specialization the why has become increasingly self-centered losing sight of the business why. This self-centered service provider model has created massive inefficacies and failure. Essentially IT without a box is now a hoarders paradise. I have worked in many large environments in my career. During that time I can honestly tell you that I have no clue what the applications I supported did for the business.
IT needs to refocus on the business box. This will allow them to shed junk that does not serve the business. I have seen so many projects to right size applications or re-host applications that drive zero business benefit but solve some IT concern. Learning to illustrate gaps or risk in business terms gets the desirable results.
Public entities care about three things:
- Revenue – Total money they take in (keeping / increasing)
- Profit – Money they keep after all expenses (keeping / increasing)
- Risk – Things that will impact their ability to make revenue or profit (reducing / neutralizing)
If you work for a government or non-profit they are normally focused on the mission or political will of the power while staying inside the budget. Instead of micro-managing time or outsourcing IT to people who really don’t care about your mission consider educating your team about the business box. Talk about which applications help drive revenue or profit. Teach them to think in business terms… it will empower them to rise above the first in first out mentality. Your team will be able to justify their needs in business terms of risk making it easier to get spend.