A Meaningful Manifesto for IT

“Customer-centricity” is one of the biggest tags in the tag cloud to the right. My first post this year was “Is 2016 the Year for Customer-Focused IT?”. It’s a concept that I find vitally important to IT for the simple reason that to the extent that IT is not fit for purpose, it’s a waste of money. How well (or not) we’re meeting the needs of our clients determines that level of fitness.

Seth Godin’s recent post, “A manifesto for small teams doing important work”, contains a great deal of wisdom for IT, primarily because it starts with a customer-centric approach:

If you make a promise, set a date. No date, no promise.

If you set a date, meet it.

If you can’t make a date, tell us early and often. Plan B well prepared is a better strategy than hope.

Talk to everyone as if they were your boss, your customer, the founder, your employee. It’s all the same.

It works because it’s personal.

Trust is a crucial basis for a relationship, and IT is in the relationship business, or it’s operating at a disadvantage. IT is pricey, so without the value provided by a good relationship, there is a tremendous incentive to shop based on price. If corporations had been better at managing outsourced software development, insourcing might not be the current trend. The current issue of “shadow IT” certainly belies the notion that companies are happy with the service they’re getting.

IT doesn’t exist in a vacuum. IT systems, the social system(s) by which they’re provisioned, and the social systems which make use of them must all work together in reasonable harmony or risk dysfunction. I’m of the opinion that embedded IT (whether literal or figurative) would be useful in bridging the gap. Humility and responsibility would go a long way toward helping. Likewise, tailoring solutions to problems would help better than chasing fads is a good strategy. Meeting needs will get a better reception than attempts to control, particularly when we attempt to control what we don’t own. At the very least, we need to learn to communicate.

Those are principles I can get behind.

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8 thoughts on “A Meaningful Manifesto for IT

  1. Proximity, embedded IT, does not prove of customer focus however it might be evidence that it exists. The model of embedded IT has gone in and out of fashion over the years but until someone solves the cost problem we will have to generate customer focus using a different technique.

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    • I was fortunate enough to work for a while for an organization that was what I referred to above as figuratively embedded (part of IT, but funded by the business unit they were assigned to). The big thing was that teams belonged to one chain of command rather than being re-assigned constantly. This preserved institutional knowledge and provided continuity to our clients. Essentially we worked as in-house vendors; the business unit was free to work with nearly any provider the wished (subject to some universal architectural and security guidelines). The amount spent for IT services didn’t really change, but everyone was happier with the way it was allocated and with the quality of service.

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  2. Pingback: A Meaningful Manifesto for IT | WhiteBox Business Solutions

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