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Mon 17 May 2004

Business @ the Speed of Stupid

Category : Technology

I picked this book up from the Special Offers bin yesterday and have been reading it since.

Business at the Speed of Light? More like, Business @ the Speed of Stupid - "a comedy and a tragedy in every chapter", according to an Amazon.com review. This ought to be required reading for users, business owners, and IT practitioners alike because "the business landscape is littered with the remains of thousands of technology ventures", and we need to get everybody to understand why this had happened and how we can do better.

While reading the book, I've been thinking about the comment I made in the last post about taking just eight weeks to bring a client-server-based application onto the web. If it gives a feeling of bravado, of the sort that comes out quite foolishly on the pages of "Business @ the Speed of Light", then I must hasten to add that a lot of trial and mostly errors had preceded it, through a couple of projects I did on the side, using other failed approaches.

I had learned, from the failures, to value the whole body of code that had already worked. And that the key to getting things done is controlling complexity, and not let the tail wag the dog.

So the point I was trying to make was that, when IT departments insist on issues like standardisation on the languages and platforms they had "blessed", above all other considerations, they may be underestimating the dangers they're exposing their business. They may look like they're simplifying things, but actually creating a combinatorial explosion of complexity. They like to say things like, "the web server must be .Net, or whatever, compliant, or we won't endorse it", and my stomach turns the way it's been described for many of the unfortunate souls who populate the "Business @ the Speed of Stupid" book.

Finding a way to get along with IT departments, managing the expectations of users, and living with the limited project management skills of the IT coordinators in-between - these are the hardest challenges facing external IT developers and consultants.

Posted at 1:51PM SGT | permalink


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