You Didn't Build That...Or Did You?

Just so you know, it's a trick question.

That's because the answer always is: Yes. You did.

How do I know? That's an easy one to answer: If it's yours - from start-up to SMB to multi-national - if you're at its head at this moment...whether first line supervisor or built it.

Did you do it alone? No. Could you have? No. Will anyone ever build anything in business alone? No.

Because it doesn't work that way. Excuse the Kumbayah vernacular, but it really does take a village - no matter what kind of enterprise you've built or are trying to build.

The question, therefore, isn't about whether or not you built it. The questions you should be asking are:
  • Is it what I want?
  • How did it get this way?
  • How much history is driving our present?
  • How much is that helping or hurting us?
  • What do we need to change?
  • How've we been doing in making those changes?
  • What do we need to do differently in successfully executing the changes we need?
  • What kind of data do we have to tell us that any of the answers to the questions we just went through are actually true?
  • What kind of measures do we need to ensure we know what we're talking about now and for our future?
And those questions are just the beginning. 

Take it as said: You built it. What you want to know - and act upon - is: What do I want to do with it?

That's when you'll create the success you seek.

(If you thought I was going to go play with the politicians on this one - not this time. Frankly, when it comes to this, they don't know what they're talking about anyway.)

The Success of Failure - Jim Blasingame's "Small Business Advocate"

I'm very happy to report that Jim Blasingame, the host of the Small Business Advocate Radio Program and creator of one of the most valuable resources for small and medium sized businesses out there, has chosen to feature my article "The Success of Failure" on his website.

As many of you will know, the article first appeared in my most recent Thinking Executive Newsletter.

Do go check it out on Jim's site.  And listen in on Wednesday as I'll be live on his program continuing our discussions on quality, profits and being best of breed.

To hear previous interviews I've done with Jim, visit my archive page on his site.

IT ROI - The Broader Strategic View

There's an interesting article in Forbes about figuring out IT ROI.

Why it's interesting is not so much because of what it says as because of what it doesn't.

Now, to be fair, it is geared toward CIOs - and in that way, it's a handy-dandy guide to looking at the various cost factors that come into the IT decision.

On the other hand, because it's geared toward CIOs it misses out on the most important ROI factor questions of them all:

  • Does the new technology fulfill the strategic, market-building and profitability goals of the enterprise?
  • How do you know?  Have the other executive team members seen and bought into the win you're proposing through this technology change/adoption?
  • How long until that return is seen - for everyone?
  • How will you know - in hard measures - that the ROI has been accomplished?
  • How long will it last?  In other words, how long - according to the vendors and your calculations - before you're having to come back for another capital injection?
Technology is a wonderful thing.  It's also expensive.

CIO types are now arguing that with the cloud available - and all the providers making those clouds bigger and brighter with ever more silver linings every day - that technology costs are decreasing.

True - at least for the actual costs of the technology and its implementation.  And that's a good argument. (For the best argument along those lines, take a look at the Google Apps/Microsoft Office wars that have just begun.)

But the cost of technology is - and must be - part of a larger whole.  It can't be seen as separate from anything.  Especially because technology is - and must be - a driver toward strategic success.

(By the way, you entrepreneurial types, if you're building an IT-related product, make sure you calculate and include these arguments as part of your value proposition.  Otherwise, the WIIFM for your potential customers isn't really being addressed.)

So, take a look at the Forbes article, because it's good information and useful.  Then, before you approve any further IT purchases, take those calculations and put them into a broader context.  A strategic context.

That way you'll ensure a win.