Just Because You’re “Right,” Doesn’t Mean You’re Right

RightDoesntMeanRightLet’s start with something we all basically agree upon: the best way to tackle the substantial functional and information needs of our stakeholders is with a comprehensive, big-ticket implementation. One that may take a long time but will deliver exactly what the business needs.

Now that’s out of the way… let’s look at reality. As much as we in IT know this to be the ideal way to operate (from an IT perspective) the business has a very different perspective.

They hate “big-ticket, long-term” projects. They like low-dollar, quick wins that solve problems today. And they are OK accepting imperfect solutions to make that happen. (Well, at least that’s what they say before they get the system.)

It DOESN’T Get Better

And don’t expect this issue to resolve itself as you get into the higher levels of an organization. The higher up the ladder you pitch your projects, the less stakeholders are likely to care about the long term and the more they will care about immediate ROI, i.e., quick monetary gains against small accomplished business objectives (the kind that look great in monthly reports and presentations).

No matter how much you cry that “But that infrastructure won’t work on such a short time frame! We need another year!” your cries will likely fall on deaf executive suite’s ears. So what’s a dedicated IT pro to do?

How do you serve your organization most effectively when your best advice and guidance is in direct opposition to what your executives want.

A tough problem, but with an obvious solution

Your stakeholders just need to reset their expectations and start thinking more like IT, right?

Don’t hold your breath.

Getting your stakeholders to change their mindset on big-ticket IT infrastructure investment is a longshot at best. They’re under too much pressure to deliver short-term results.

So what’s a good IT pro to do? Simple, do everything you can to become an incrementalist.

An incrementalist is someone who has their eyes on the long-term vision but is able to deliver on the long term with small, measured, short-term steps.

This isn’t defeatist thinking, it’s strategic planning. By producing a steady stream of small wins (and a track record of making your stakeholders look good) you: (a) lay the foundation for your long-term plan, and (b) make it much easier to actually get the big infrastructure dollars when you really need them.

IT and the business often have opposing ideas of how to tackle projects. One thinks long-term, the other thinks short-term. Who is right?

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