My husband hates cracking eggs. I can see it when he hesitates right before hitting them on the side of the bowl. I can see him cringe a little when the gooey bits get on his hands. He would much prefer to have boiled eggs. He’s really good at making boiled eggs, he does it carefully and they turn out perfectly every time. I on the other hand love the act of breaking eggs – not for the sake of breaking them, but because of the different outcomes I can realize. I can turn some eggs into any number of different meals – an egg sandwich, a frittata, a quiche – you get the idea.
My husband is in IT, has been for a long time and he loves his job. It occurs to me that his love of carefully boiled eggs, meaning his love of attention to detail, his careful preparation processes, his production of a consistently high quality product and yes his aversion to smashing things before turning them into something new is part of what makes him good at his job.
When it comes to operational excellence in IT, we need and have a lot of people like my husband. They are the keepers of one of the most important part of any modern organization – the company’s data and the systems that rely on it to drive the business. We know these are mission critical, the consequences of failing systems can be expensive – the business’s revenue and to the brand.
But these days, operational excellence alone isn’t enough, we also have to transform our businesses using technology or we risk being eliminated by a faster more agile competitor. The skills and attitudes required to transform something are not the same as the skills needed to maintain operational excellence. To transform successfully you can’t just do what you’re currently doing only better, you must change it completely.
I often wonder if transformation projects fail or stall because they are made up of teams of people who don’t like to break eggs. Ask the coach of a successful hockey or soccer (football for you Europeans) team how important it is to have both offense and defense working together even though they have very different skills. Why would an IT transformation project be any different? You need some egg breakers on your transformation team to work alongside your excellence minded IT team for optimal outcomes, and if you can’t find them in IT, why not go outside the department? Create a task force and build on the power of the Yin and Yang of IT – create that synergy between transformation and operational excellence and create a real change for the better.
Go on, break an egg.
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