What Really Matters: Thinking it through
Listen: Humanize IT Podcast Blog Ep 125
Welcome back to Humanize IT! This week, Adam and Skip share how to incorporate an intentional thought process behind every decision as they expand on their last episode, “What Really Matters”. The key takeaway: technology is most useful when it benefits business.
First thing’s first — don’t implement new technology just for the sake of implementing new technology. You may be tempted to push a shiny new tech toy on a company just because you think it’s cool, but hold off. Identify problems and inconsistencies within the business first, then pinpoint the solutions that will fix them.
In other words, don’t put the cart before the horse. Each department should think through their pain points, then come to IT for help. As a tech professional, what could you could work on for your colleagues now that will save them time in the long run? It all comes down to ensuring there’s a practical purpose at the root of every project. When you put business first, technology becomes the hero.
Another philosophy to keep in mind when making decisions in IT is to compare the effort to the reward. Will all the time you put into a project now save time in the long run? When email first came out, for example, IT staff everywhere poured hundreds of hours into installing software and training employees. These initial acts, although time consuming, ended up saving ample time (and paper) forever. This is a scenario in which the reward is undeniably worth the effort.
Sometimes, though, it’s not so black and white. Years ago, NASA needed an anti-gravity pen so astronauts could take notes in space. They spent tens of million dollars to develop an all-new, cutting-edge technology: the ballpoint pen. Their Space Race opponent Russia had another solution: a graphite pencil.
Many scorned NASA for spending a fortune on a problem that didn’t need to be fixed in the first place — at least, from the surface. What they didn’t know was that graphite, and pencils in general, are highly flammable.
Was the pen worth the money, given the offset of eliminating catastrophe in space? Most astronauts would say so. Although there very well may be a solution as simple as a post-it note, be sure to think through every viewpoint to guarantee you’re not missing something that could harm you later.
Today we see the ballpoint pen as an everyday office staple, just like Alexa’s home voice commands once required an elaborate setup with a pile of wires in every room. But at the end of the day, Adam said he still gets up to turn the lights off — even if technology can do it for him.
The initial shock of engineered solutions, like ballpoint pens, emails and voice commands, has become less and less surprising over time. We often take these conveniences for granted, but looking back at the steps we took to get here will yield better solutions over time.
Don’t miss next week’s episode, where Skip and Adam discuss how to prevent “over-engineering”!