|Image: Popular Science Archives|
When I was a kid, my father had a bookshelf with dozens of old Popular Science and Popular Mechanics. It was before the Internet, iPods, game consoles and Social Media, so rainy day activities (for me) tended to consist of pouring through the back issues, imagining how much better the world was going to be through the wonders of science. They had sent a man into space after all, so why wouldn't science and technology create the utopic world where machines did all the work while we flew from place to place in our cars?
Bounce ahead thirty years.... It's now the nineties. For some reason flying cars didn't arrive, but the promises of the time-saving wonder of technology didn't go away. We had survived disco and big-hair bands, but we were also well into adopting personal computers and the connecting them all together via the Internet. The personal computer connected to the Internet was the revolutionary technology that would save us oodles of time.
Bounce ahead to today... There is more technology available to more people in more places than ever before. Everything bit of technology we buy carries the promise of more productivity.
So we race to get the latest technology, in order to be more productive. We buy it for our teams, so they can be more productive.
So why are we so busy?
Why is it when you announce a new project your team may smile and nod, but inside are launching intercontinental mind missiles at you? Didn't you buy them all those productivity tools?
The problem is not the technology.
While adding technology can actually be counter productive and costly since it takes time to learn and implement new tools and build the skill sets to support them, the real problem in my experience has been a capacity issue.
So why do we keep adding new projects and take on new responsibilities, but never shed any of the tasks that kept us occupied before the new work?
Your team only has so much capacity to do so many things. Mileage may vary, but all teams have a limit.
If this describes your organization, then as an IT leader, you need to lead the change.
How do you prioritize your projects? Have you adopted a portfolio management mindset?
Can you tie everything your team does to an organizational strategic goal? If not, should you still be doing it?
Can you be sure that the projects you adopt allow you to help your organization differentiate itself from the competition? If you are not sure what this means, read The most important post on strategy you'll ever read here.
Have you categorized your services into differentiating/non differentiating? Are you willing to move the critical but non-differentiating services to the cloud?
Are you willing to stop doing the non-mission critical things that really do not add value? Are you willing to outsource them?
It's really quite simple. You can't add new things without being willing to shed some old things.
But I still want a flying car.
Bonus... Did you know you can search and view the entire 138 year archive of Popular Science magazines here?