Hurry Up And Wait

Hurry Up And Wait

This guy from the military used to joke that they were always being told to hurry up only to find that once they got to their destination, they had to sit around and wait–he called this “Hurry up and wait!”

It’s a paradox of our times that we are constantly in a hurry to get to work, have our meetings, get our work done, get home, and a million and one other things. PTA meeting or baseball practice anyone?

From fast food to information at the speed of light, it’s like we know we are up against the clock and no matter how fast we go it’s not fast enough.

Yet, it is exactly in rushing from thing to thing and to get things done that we really miss the point–to savor every moment.

I think the saying take time to smell the roses is very important. And someday if you don’t, you will look back and wonder where did all the time go and why was it so–fast and–miserable.

The Wall Street Journal (14 March 2013) has a book review today on “The Slow Fix” by Carl Honore.

Honore says we have a “cultural addiction to speed” and he advises that we take more time to enjoy life–our work, our relationships, our interests, and I would add our spirituality.

It’s funny but in the book review, it mentions how a Viennese priest admits that he even prays to fast. And I have to chuckle at that because I too remember from my childhood, so many synagogue services, where speed praying and prayer by rote took the joy and meaning away the true connection I wanted to be building with my maker.

Even in a work setting, often everything seems like a #1 priority and there is more to do than there are hours in the day or people to do it.

While working quickly and efficiently is desirable, when people are overworked and overwhelmed that is how costly mistakes happen and people get burned out.

In all aspects of our lives, we need to make good progress, but at the same time, ensure that our lives are filled with meaning that you can only get by paying attention to each and every wonderful moment. 😉

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Jayme Frye)

>The Forgotten 60%

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IT Leaders are often worried (almost exclusively) about the technology—Is it reliable? Is it robust? Is secure? Is it state-of-the-art? Is it cost-effective? And more.

This is what typically keeps IT management up at night—a server outage, the network being down, an application not available, a project off track, or a security issue such as a virus or worm.

While much lip service has been paid to the statement that “people are our most important asset;” in reality, too little emphasis is generally placed here—i.e. people are not kept high on the IT leadership agenda (for long, if at all), technology is.

Hence, we have seen the negative effects of outsourcing, layoffs, cut training budgets, pay and incentive stagnation, and other morale busting actions on our workforce, along with customers who have been disappointed by magnificent IT project failure rates—with projects over cost, behind schedule, and not meeting customer spec.

Our people—employees and customers—are not being properly cared for and the result is IT projects failure all around us (the stats speak for themselves!).

In essence, we have lost the connection between the technology outcomes we desire and the people who make it happen. Because what drives successful technology solutions are people—knowledgeable, skilled, well trained, and passionate people—working collaboratively together on behalf the mission of the organization.

A book review in ComputerWorld (21 December 2009) on World Class IT by Peter A. High identifies the 5 elements of IT leadership, as follows:

1. Recruit, train, and retain world-class IT people.

2. Build and maintain a robust IT infrastructure.

3. Mange projects and portfolios effectively.

4. Ensure partnerships within the IT department and with the business.

5. Develop a collaborative relationship with external partners.

Interestingly enough, while IT leaders generally are focused on the technology, information technology is not #1 of the 5 elements of IT leadership, but rather employees are—they are identified at the top of the list—and the author states that CIO’s should tackle these issues in the order presented.

Further, of the 5 key IT leadership elements, fully 3—or 60% are all about people and relationships, not technology. #1 are employees, #4 is business-IT partnership (customers), and #5 is external collaboration or outreach.

So unfortunately for our organizations, people are the all too forgotten (or neglected) 60%.

I do want to note that I do not fully agree on the order presented by Mr. High; in particular I do not think the customer should be 4th on the list, but rather as the customer represents the mission and the requirements to carry it out, the customer should be unquestionably to me at the very top of the list of IT leadership focus—always. We are here to serve them, period.

Overall though, the key point is that IT leaders need to reorient themselves to people and not overemphasize the technology itself, because if they generally respect and take care of the people and the relationships, the technology will follow and be more successful then ever.

>Lessons from Rear Admiral Grace Murray Hopper, U.S. Navy

>Rear Admiral Grace Hopper was an amazing pioneer and futurist of computers, and here are some lasting lessons.

COMPUTER:

Computer was the first device to assist the power of the mind rather than the strength of the arm

We’re only at the beginning…

TARGET ARCHITECTURE:

We have to build for problems and with the equipment of the future and not with what you have today.

How do you determine priorities? Instead of giving top priority to the senior squeaky wheel, base decisions on what information is most valuable.

How do you determine what information is most valuable to decision makers? 1) Time to act 2) number of people affected 3) amount of dollars involved.

CHANGE:

We’ve got to move to the future and recognize what we can do with computing.

Ask what the cost is of not doing something.

We have got to get new ideas moving and be willing to fight for them and push them.

Never take first no as the answer. Always go back and ask again. Some people always say no the first time.

Instead of saying “but we’ve always done it that way”—listen to your dreams.

LEADERSHIP:

We manage things, but we lead people.

No matter what you do or what you got, you have to do it with people.

It’s easier to ask forgiveness than it is to get permission.