Evidence? Information? Issues? Workload? Choice? Opportunity?
What are we being overwhelmed about? What is overwhelming?
Here’s my story.
The other day I decided to look into one of those buyers guide to technology. I deliberately wont mention the technology area because it is not relevant to this post. That’s the sad part. It would be easier if the relevance of the post was because it was a particular technology set.
At the exhaustive completion of reading the 30+ pages of technology vendor beauty parade I reached a damning conclusion which was that I was ‘Overwhelmed by the overwhelming fact that these guides are part of the problem”. And the problem? That a decision maker is looking for something else. These decision makers need a pair of filter goggles on because we pick up these resources in a state of desperation to ‘find the answer’ knowing that we ‘never will’. Analogous to reading a horoscope, playing the lottery or reading diet books.
Without question making technology choices for an IT organization is dead easy. After all there is an abundance of choice and opportunity. The internet is full of good advice. White papers fall from the sky extolling the compelling evidence to select vendor A over vendor B. Consultants leap around their ‘nailed’ view of why this feature is better than that feature. And why not? They are close to the truth.
But there is a but. Always 🙂
You see for the over stretched decision maker there is a problem. Being overwhelmed is not a great place to be. The default reaction is too often to withdraw back to the ‘status quo’ or ‘do nothing’ position which is the human reaction to pressure. This pressure comes in many forms but in the context of technology decisions then there is a natural urge to find reasons why not to do something.
And this is why. To build a business case for a technology decision is really tough. Just because everyone else is deploying the technology in question doesn’t mean the decision makers will roll over and say “Oh well if everyone else is using this then we would be stupid not to as well”. Those days have long gone.
Smart stakeholders have some characteristics that help them avoid being overwhelmed by the overwhelming.
Lets call it a simple 3 step plan.
- Build a protective ring of Number Twos – people who filter the partners, suppliers, product roadmaps, evaluations and presentations charged with enough of the ‘strategic blueprint’ to be the stakeholders buffer.
- Identify a trusted peer. Someone inside or outside the organization who provides the ‘moment of pause’ to step back and think through the pitfalls and gains from a decision. perhaps it is a quite drink in a pub to run past a few ideas or a pen pal the other side of the globe. It may be a trusted blog or magazine or someone who you follow on YouTube. The fun part is that however you go about it there will always be someone.
- Develop a Red Amber Green meter. Ugh? In English this is a simple validation calculator that runs either as a formal series of gates and hoops to make a prospective vendor jump through, or a touchy feely gut reaction knee jerk approach. Or a mental checklist. Whichever there is always a way of filtering out the pretenders from the contenders.
Now lets imagine you are someone selling to someone who is being overwhelmed by the overwhelming. What’s your story? Ask yourself – are you part of the overwhelming activity? Are you bombarding your client with noise? Are you the person who is causing the stakeholder to feel overwhelmed despite best intentions?
If you think you are perhaps you should take a step back and try a different track.
Knowing that the stakeholder you work with is faced with mountains of ‘noise’ presented to them by you, your colleagues, competitors, analysts, vendors and well wishers what can you do about it? Do you know whether any of the 3 steps above are in fact true? Have you realised that your ‘in’ is via a Number Two. Someone who is less overwhelmed yet holds the ear of the stakeholder. Remember sometimes the way in is not always through the front door 🙂
Now you may be underwhelmed by this post but I put down the Buyers Guide with a huge dread that our stakeholders out there – the people we rely on to give us jobs, reward us, invigorate us, challenge us, motivate us – are sitting there feeling a huge weight of worthlessness coming from all the ‘evidence’ we conveniently place at that door without any real due care and attention.
So the next time you see a cool white paper, blog post ( except mine of course ), video or technical webcast please – Pause – Rewind – and consider the impact to the person you are expecting to make a decision from and whether you are adding to their overwhelming burden of being overwhelmed!
Bury or drown beneath a huge mass
We can be overwhelmed by work – issues problems challenges etc
We can also be overwhelming – we expect too much we demand too much
new infleunces – stakeholders
which decision is the right one?