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The Dark Side of Distractions

October 26, 2015

Everyone in IT knows projects are often late, over budget, and out of scope. There are several contributing factors and distraction definitely ranks near the top of the list. Nothing new there. But how many of us sit back and think about the dark side of those distractions?

 

Think about distractions in relation to pitching in baseball. A pitcher gets in the game and has a few bad innings. His ERA creeps up a bit; no big deal. Bad outings happen. But what happens if the pitcher goes out again and again with bad outings? The measurable impact via his ERA and games won or lost is easy to track and weigh. But what about those impacts not measured, such as team morale and coaches’ confidence?

 

While we can’t assign a number to morale or coaching confidence, those issues definitely affect the game. Let’s examine these types of distractions as they relate to our IT teams.

 

Collaboration

 

An engineer is in a meeting with the marketing group about a new project, when an alert goes off indicating a router is down. What happens? The engineer excuses him/herself from the meeting, leaving the marketing team to wonder if the IT team values them as partners.

 

Is the router important? Absolutely; that’s not the issue. The thing not measured here is the unseen impact. Marketing has to get their project completed with or without the help of the internal engineer, so meet with an as-a-service provider. Do you think anything interrupts that conversation? Not a chance. Will marketing come back to IT for their next project?

 

Retention

 

Engineers are valuable resources, and valuable resources have options. Engineers want to innovate. Contribute. Drive value. Changing someone’s voicemail password isn’t what that engineer imagined when they went through their education. Distractions that pull an engineer away from the work they truly enjoy will cause those resources to find another environment. There isn’t a company out there that pays enough, nor has the best benefits to make up for work that is dull, mundane, and not fulfilling.

 

Strategic vs. Tactical

 

Where in the technology funnel can your team add the most value? At implementation and roll-out or in the early planning and strategy phases? Again, no question that connecting the pipes and getting the backbone in place is important, but where can your team add the most value? It’s in the strategic evaluation of technology, i.e., mapping out how that technology helps your business outpace the competition. But chasing distractions means your team will never get invited to the strategy discussion. They’re too busy to think, design, and plan.

 

Distractions do impact schedule, scope, and budget on projects, but the dark side of distractions are those impacts to collaboration, talent retention, and your ability to get a seat at the strategy table. All of these impacts will ultimately drive your customers into the arms of your competitors and reduce the relevancy IT has to your business.

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