After well over 30 years working in information technology within the financial services sector I have at last decided to strike out on my own. This seems to be a trend among my friends and colleagues who are of the same vintage as me; many have chosen a similar path (or have had that path chosen for them). My former company and I had some serious philosophical differences over the last few years. It became pretty clear that they weren’t going to change their direction, leaving me the choice of holding my nose and remaining with the company, or striking out on my own (and being able to breathe).
I chose breathing (and I thank my family and friends for helping me through that process – it was harder than it looked).
My intention is to use this blog to provide you, the readers, with the opportunity to think about things a bit differently. And by ‘things’ I really mean ‘how you plan, design and operate your business’. And how you manage change. Where it gets complicated is that many of opportunities that I see are behavioral in nature; sometimes changing your business will mean personal change – changing how you think and how you act.
And change is hard.
I know change is hard because at my former employer I was a part of no less than three major strategic transformational initiatives, as well as a host of acquisitions, divestitures, reorganizations, outsourcing efforts and the like. And in looking back at all that change and how successful (or unsuccessful) those change initiatives were, I can only conclude that, in virtually every case, we could have done better. Much better in some cases. And some cases the change had no business happening at all.
Virtually all of my learning has been of the ‘hands-on’ type; over the years I have gained considerable amount of experience in managing change and I believe that my judgment is sound.
Here’s a brief account on how one gains judgment –– it dates back to the 17th century and it’s probably apocryphal in nature but it’s a good story nonetheless.
A student sought out Mullah Nasruddin for years, hoping to find guidance from him. He finally found the Mullah in the marketplace sitting atop a pile of banana peels – no one knows why.
“Oh great sage, Nasruddin,” said the student. “I must ask you an important question, whose answer we all seek: What is the secret to attaining happiness?”
Mullah Nasrudin pondered for a time and finally replied, “Good judgment.”
“Ah,” said the student. “But how do we attain good judgment?”
“From experience,” answered Nasruddin.
“Yes,” said the student. “But how do we get experience?”
(As recounted in THE BEGGAR KING AND THE SECRET OF HAPPINESS by Joel ben Izzy, Algonquin Books, 2003).
I am more or less self-taught. I don’t have a doctorate. Nor do I have an MBA. I am not an academic theorizing. What I am is both an observer and a practitioner. I’m pragmatic. I’m a bit of a contrarian. I like experimentation. I’m realistic. And I remain absolutely convinced that every organization can implement change that will provide lasting value to the owners, the employees and to the customers. I am also convinced that every organization can improve the process by which they implement change.
How can you improve your business without breaking the bank, without losing your ability to operate effectively and without losing your sanity? And without losing your integrity? These are the questions that my blog will hope to answer.
The primary focus of this blog will be people, process and technology, in that order. I will do my best to stay on topic, but sometimes I may go off on a tangent and there may be the odd time where current events get in the way. I beg for your indulgence in advance; I promise I will do my best to keep these walkabouts to a minimum.
Let me give you my solemn pledge about a couple of things:
- Your personal information is safe. I take privacy, confidentiality and security very seriously. Your contact information will *never* be sold, given away or otherwise distributed.
- You will never see ads displayed on this site. Ads are crass, and I don’t want it to appear that I am endorsing any of the products or services.
- I commit to promptly replying to everyone who either comments or sends me a private communication.
My intent is to publish twice a week, probably Mondays and Thursdays. I expect each entry to be between 500 and 1000 words. (I know that you aren’t really too concerned about my publishing schedule or the number of words, but I am, and I need to see it written down to make it real). And I will make it worth your while to read them. Your time is valuable – it’s a non-renewable resource – I have no desire to waste it.
I hope that you will comment on my entries. It will help me gauge interest in specific topics and inform me where I should probably go into more detail (or conversely, where I should just move on!). A dialogue is much better than a dissertation and I invite everyone to agree or disagree and to add their own perspective to the conversation.
Ideas are grand, but magic only happens when those ideas are transformed into action. I hope that there are some success stories that can be shared – case studies on successful implementations of change. And I hope that we can have a bit of fun with this. Fun is something that has been absent from my work life for some time now and it’s high time for a return engagement.
I have a few goals for the blog. I’d like to see it grow into a community of individuals who are willing to listen to each other, take what they have learned and then apply it.
I am looking at this as an incredible opportunity to share, and to learn, and to grow. For me, and for us.
Back in 1988, at a UN conference aimed at saving the rainforest, Jerry Garcia (of Grateful Dead fame) said this: Somebody has to do something, and it’s just incredibly pathetic that it has to be us.
I’d like to paraphrase a bit: Somebody has to do something, and it’s just incredibly exciting that it gets to be us.
Welcome to the Spitfire Innovations blog – dedicated to promoting an intelligent approach to planning and implementing change in your business (and maybe in yourself too).
Update Monday April 14th: Now that I have been blogging for a month I’ve come to the conclusion that producing 2 quality posts per week is akin to a full-time job. I’ve decided that one post a week is going to have to suffice.