How To Succeed In IT … The Simple Way

4 Steps to Simplifying your IT Efforts

How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time!
The first step is the hardest. – Saint Danis
A little learning is a dangerous thing. – Alexander Pope

We’ve all probably heard these or something similar. Chances are we gloss right over them, but the simple wisdom imparted in these well-worn adages is a worthwhile reminder to us IT practitioners.

During my 20+ years in industry and now on the IT services side, I have interacted with IT professionals in small to large businesses; I frequently find teams facing multiple complex challenges, typically highlighted by unrealistic delivery expectations. I’ve had success working with customers and applying many of the same principles the age-old sayings impart. IT is inherently complex and I fundamentally believe that by simplifying efforts and by applying sound thinking to problems, true progress happens.

Take, for example, how to proceed with a new paradigm or capability, such as cloud services and their delivery models. Many times, the “how” of moving the effort forward becomes a spin cycle and progress turns into a crawl. The keys to success are straight forward.

1. Start Small, Learn Big

This can’t be expressed enough based on my experiences. Take the first step but try to make it very low risk and innocuous. For example, many enterprises create an additional backup for their primary backups. Most have never touched the secondary backup. Sounds like a good small step candidate to embrace cloud capabilities.

The goal is to learn as much as you can from the small step. That’s the true value in the exercise. You’ll garner knowledge about the technology but the higher value learning might just be the impact on the overall organization and the effect it has on people involved.

2. Make Sure It’s Practical & Attainable

Anything done must meet these two conditions: practical and attainable – at scale. Too many times I’ve seen customers attempt something, even sell something internally, that isn’t really practical or fails to meet objectives when widely deployed. My counsel is to use these conditions as a lens through which to judge options.

3. Turn Champions Into Momentum

You have people in your organization today who are both interested in and excited about cloud and are probably already experimenting on their own. Get them involved early on. They become your advocates. Once they start taking ownership and pushing ideas, you’ve got momentum. And initial momentum is often the secret to driving a new initiative to long term success.

4. Collaborate. For Real.

Most of us recognize that collaborating with people inside your organization and amongst your partners is how work gets done in today’s matrix management organizations. However, building relationships and sharing experiences with non-competitive peer organizations is typically an unmined source of valuable experiences. In all likelihood, you’ll find peers within the IT community willing to share knowledge. Talk to others who have done this before. By no means try to figure it all out on your own.

Obviously, these approaches must fit within the broader framework of your key objectives. No degree of sound, practical thinking and approaches will position efforts for success if they don’t clearly map to your key goals and objectives. But if the right objectives are understood, then we’d be prudent to apply some of these longstanding adages to how we approach our work. After all, they have survived this long … There must be some wisdom within them.