Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Seize the Day!

I had the opportunity to make a presentation on the subject of "Getting a Handle on Fulfillment Software" at the Mailing and Fulfillment Services Assoc. Conference in Dallas, March 24. It was a good show with a nice turnout.

By way of introduction to the subject, I mentioned I had read in The Economist that week that Belarus, a Russian "satellite," is in the throes of a political stalemate. Their apathy is reflected in many of the jokes Belarusians tell about themselves. In one, a citizen is hung by his captors. Two weeks later, he is still alive. How did he survive? “I got used to it.” This apathetic adaptability is also evident in the villages where they say, "Maybe another president would be worse!"

The point? All too often users with a crippled/compromised system simply "get used to it" and fear that making a change to another system might only make matters worse. Done poorly, of course, such a change could end up for the worse, but to reduce the chance of that outcome you need to know what you have control over and act accordingly.

The comedian Emo Phillips, I told the audience, says that when he was ten years old, he prayed to God every night for a bicycle. After awhile, he realized that God didn't work that way, so he went out and stole a bike, and prayed to God every night to forgive him!

It takes hard work to get a new system right, but if you engage in the effort intelligently, you won't have to pray to God every night that you made the right decision...

1 comment:

John said...

I completely agree with the analogy between Belarusians and users of legacy systems. I often encounter users who do a tremendous amount of meaningless work just to accommodate an outdated system. When I ask them why they continue to tolerate this insanity, the indicate that they have requested a change to the system but that they were either told "no" or that it would be put on the "list" and probably accomplished in a few years (and it never is -- something more important always comes up.) In the end, they give up hope of things ever changing.

Now all parts of a company have their own problems, and an IS department is no different (perhaps we even have more than our share), but if you can put together a solid business case for changing or replacing a system, I encourage the end users to keep pushing! Don't settle for "no". Don't be the martyr - push for revolution. These changes can't be made by IS alone, they must be a partnership between IS and the business. Find someone in IS who will listen and has some influence and team up with them to improve things.

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