Measure twice, cut once

History’s framers & carpenters have some important wisdom to share with IT hipsters.

Perhaps your employer has decided that it’s time for a change (to be accurate: your employer’s employees make such decisions as they react to consumer demand). That sounds simple enough, except for the change part.

“Build it and they will come” is, of course, the stuff of fantasy. To put it into IT terms, it’s the stuff of vaporware. That’s why your organization needs a framework to outline the pathway toward the realization of synergetic outcomes. Or something like that.

Seriously, though, all stakeholders must have a say in the planning phase for any significant change to process or infrastructure, and managers must give the planning phase enough breathing room to articulate desires and goals and potential impediments that might even preclude the project under consideration. A multi-year action plan targeting perceived competition is inadvisable, since that implies a bureaucratic mindset instead of what your enterprise must always demonstrate: a consumers-come-first management attitude which leaves the competition struggling to come up with its own within-five-years-this-will-pan-out plans of bureaucratic futility. Let your competitors dig themselves into deeper holes as you concentrate on helping your employer serve consumers.

Think of such planning in terms of staying agile through short, iterative sprints of regular process revision. Don’t jump toward every new idea that gets entered into the backlog. Allow your coworkers that vital breathing room. Give everyone enough time to measure the cost & benefit of this or that strategy pivot, and then give them enough time to measure it again. That might seem like duplicating effort, but in actuality it’s an age-old strategy for making sure that you don’t cut the figurative branch on which your organization sits.

To use metaphors which originate outside the construction industry, companies are more like slow-turning freighters than they are turn-on-a-dime hydroplanes. Keep in mind the opportunity cost of repeated spin-down-spin-up rampages toward this or that trend, and play it cool so consumers want to hang out with you (to be accurate: your employer’s products).