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When rules start becoming handcuffs…

Business Strategy, Software Strategy, Uncategorized

Rules are meant to be handrails, not handcuffs. I have always found great wisdom from this saying which I first heard as a freshman in college from a colleague, who attributed it to his father, an honorable army man. 

I am a very strong proponent of having process and rules, as long as these do not begin to hinder progress. Time and again, I have come across many situations in corporations I have worked directly or indirectly for where process is to be blamed for their inability to execute. Typically it is IT department versus the business playing a tennis match in slow motion without making any headway. Of course, business thinks everything is highest priority and that somehow the IT department can conjure up resources to deliver on 120 requirements at an electrifying pace. The IT person pretty much is inundated with requests and is already over-worked. Their best course of defence is to make sure that only the ”plastic” balls are being dropped, while the “glass” ones continue to be juggled. This means that the IT person wants the business to follow the process and formally submit their requirements and wish lists that can be then prioritized with respect to other projects in the pipeline. There lies the trap. Processes can be stifling especially if one is trying to grow a mile a second. 

Any process that is not flexible is bound to fail, and therefore not a good process. Bad processes are not due to only one department’s fault.  It is often a result of setting incorrect priorities by management, shortage of resources or simply b/cthe organization is growing too fast. 

Each situation is unique, but generally the problem lies with trying to put a general work flow to all activities. Any company will have steady state and non-steady state activities, and obviously in a start up, the non-steady state activities should exceed as the organization takes off. Agile development, project and product management is required. It may be implemented through a parallel or auxiliary team. Incentives to foster prompt delivery are also good idea.


March 30, 2008   |   Posted by Imran Aftab


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