After working in technology for over twenty years I’ve found that no matter which sector you work in many of the IT related processes are the same. Whether you are discussing testing, purchasing, integration, implementation, (etcetera) everyone seems to go about their processes the same way. And why not, these processes have worked well since the last IBM card was punched sometime last century. Well having been around technology all of my life, my dad landed a job at Digital Equipment Corporation in the early 70’s, I’ve learned a thing or two about what happens when you don’t update your playbook from time to time.
"Like most things in life the easy way of doing something is not necessarily the best way to do it"
Now before I reveal my secret to success I’m going to ask that everyone take a deep breath. I want you to go into this relaxed and with an open mind. I would also like to state that I’m not looking to sell anyone consulting services, and no I don’t have a book signing coming up, I just want to pass on some hard earned knowledge. What I propose is that when you are faced with your next IT issue, before you go to the old standby of upgrading hardware or software, that you first visit the process. Now I’m not talking about thinking this through the moment that your place of business has just been infiltrated by ransom ware. What I’m suggesting is that when you start to plan your IT budget for next year that you proactively examine all of your processes.
Let’s be honest, at one point or another everyone has heard a colleague at work say ‘we’ve always done it this way’. That may be fine if we’re talking about how to start a campfire, but with almost everything else in life, processes change, or at least they should. Process change is the first step toward innovation (innovation is simply a new method, idea or product). In order to be innovative you absolutely have to think outside the box, and in this day and age if you just change your view of something a tiny bit you could potentially come up with the next big idea. Let’s take Uber for example, certainly no one needed a PhD from MIT to come up with that.
Being innovative doesn’t mean that you need to patent anything, or come up with an invention that no one else has ever thought of before, it only requires that you change your perspective. The thing is that there’s more to changing your perspective than simply saying ‘I’m going to think like a doctor today’. You’ll need to spend time with your end users to learn their current processes and procedures, to understand their needs and challenges. Once you’ve done that then you can ultimately design a robot to replace them. I’m obviously joking, but a quick walkthrough of their work area isn’t going to cut it.
Like most things in life the easy way of doing something is not necessarily the best way to do it. Being innovative takes work, more work than just doing things the way that they’ve always been done. That’s alright though, because not only will you become a better professional for putting in the extra effort, but you will be making the lives of your co-workers better. You will be making your workplace a happier place to be, and if everyone adopts this same mindset than we’ll be making the world a better place in general. I’ll admit that this is a grandiose view on the subject, but what can I say, I’m an optimist.