Recently, somebody challenged me to describe what it means to run IT like a business. This is what I came up with:
- Businesses have customers (not users).
- Businesses thrive by providing their customers with goods and services that their customers want at a cost those customers consider a value.
Sometimes we find ourselves providing services that our customers don’t want. That could mean we got ahead of ourselves and started providing a solution without first providing the consulting service that creates the desire to receive the service.
Misunderstandings, even small ones, can result in thousands of hours of wasted work. It is really important in our field that we clearly communicate. One common source of misunderstanding is the pronoun. I would encourage you to listen to how often people use “it”, “that and “them”. I have made it a habit to ask my direct reports not to use pronouns, to explicitly state by name the people, places and things to which or whom they are referring.
Pronouns recently got the President in trouble. Trying to borrow a page from the Elizabeth Warren playbook the President recently said:
“Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business—you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.”
Many conservatives believe that “that” is referring to the “your business” as in “You didn’t build your business. Somebody else made your business happen.”
Supporters of the President are saying that the “that” is referring to the “roads and bridges that the business benefits from” as in “You didn’t build the roads and bridges that support your business. Somebody else made the roads and bridges happen.”
I am NOT going to engage in a political debate, so don’t even bother leaving a comment about the political context. I am just saying that this was an ambiguous statement. The type of ambiguous statement that can result in a failed project or political campaign. Clarity is important. It is important to craft messages carefully and clearly to get the desired result.