LEAN can Teach Us to be More Proactive & Results Focused

IT organizations’ time & resources tend to be overwhelmingly oriented toward being reactive rather than proactive.  How do we flip that?  Lean/6sigma can help us address that.

Working with many types of IT organizations, I’ve taught myself to be an acute observer of how organizations go about their technology selection process.  I’ve noticed a close correlation between the amount of time spent selecting technology (in this regard, let’s think in terms of FTE’s rather than the calendar) and how reactive organizations tend to be.

I’m always looking for those little changes that can make a HUGE difference, and that principle is a fundamental part of Lean/6Sigma thinking as well.  I’ll be writing more about this in a future post.  It will be time well spent.

What got me to thinking about this was two very approaches that two companies recently invited me in to present on a security technology.

Scenario #1:

  • 14 people from the company were invited to our presentation
  • We spent almost two and a half hours covering a wide range of options & capabilities.
  • The session was filled with skepticism, challenges & extreme conditions that might test the validity of the solution – most of which would never be encountered at this particular company.
  • At the end of the meeting, the group could only agree that they needed to have another meeting to discuss what their next steps would be. (Let’s say that they did have another meeting and it lasted an hour – that’s 18 people for 3 hours for a total of 54 “FTE hours”, almost two weeks of time spent.)
  • No follow up session was ever done, and to my knowledge, the company has not entered into even a pilot of the technology or anything comparable to solve the problem they weren’t sure they had.

Scenario #2:

  • 4 people from the company were invited to our presentation
  • We spent one hour covering very specific options & capabilities. Their questions were very direct, almost as if they had previously implemented a project exactly like the one they were embarking upon.
  • The session was based on the leader of the group having spent two days visiting similar organizations (not direct competitors) investigating a number of technologies & business scenarios. , including unintended consequences, organizational challenges, & the impact on end-users.
  • At the end of the meeting, the group agreed that they should have one of the attendees evaluate the system in a two week test within the IT group.
  • Shortly thereafter, the company entered a proof-of-concept, and has already rolled out the first phase of their project live.
  • I now come to meetings with this customer more fully prepared and ready to be challenged, but from the perspective of curiosity & collaboration. This customer helps me deliver my absolute best!

We’ll write in more detail on these two companies’ approaches and analyze what each of them did and how lean principles can be applied for lessons learned.

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