Blogger: Lyn Robison
You’ve probably encountered the Chinese Finger Trap, a puzzle that traps the victim's fingers in both ends of a small, woven cylinder. The intuitive reaction is to pull your fingers out of the ends, but this only tightens the trap. The more you try to do the intuitive thing, the worse your situation gets. The solution is counterintuitive: push the ends inward toward the middle.
It turns out Enterprise IT is a lot like that. IT people often find themselves trapped in a situation where doing the intuitive thing only makes things worse. The business asks for an IT system, so the IT people work hard to implement the system, but then the businesspeople end up not being satisfied with it. And then the businesspeople want more systems, so the IT groups build more systems just as fast as they can. The businesspeople always seem to want the systems faster than IT can implement them, and then the businesspeople seem to be always dissatisfied with the results -- and it is all IT’s fault. That’s the finger trap. The more that IT groups try to give the businesspeople the systems that they ask for, the less satisfied the businesspeople seem to be.
The solution is counter-intuitive. When businesspeople ask for a new system, what they are actually asking for is information. That is why they want the new system -- to get some information that they need to do their jobs better. So, when IT delivers a new, hurriedly-built system, these new systems often don’t quite deliver the information that the businesspeople hoped for, the businesspeople are unsatisfied. And then they ask for another system. The solution, the way out of the trap, is to stop building more systems. Really.
As counterintuitive as this sounds, the solution is to take a careful look at the information that the businesspeople require, and see if there is a way to clean up the data in a few of the old systems to give the businesspeople the information they need. Cleaning up the data in existing systems is often faster, less expensive, and more effective than implementing a whole new system. The businesspeople will like it better and you will escape from the trap of working harder while satisfying the business less.