Did you ever work for technology? Chances are you have and may not have noticed it. Another question I could ask is, have you ever worked for the process and forgotten who you work for?
A few years ago, we were told by our customers that we were not meeting their expectations. This threw IS management into a tizzy. How could this be? We work so hard, and we strive to satisfy your every need? Where have we failed you?
The wringing of hands and mea culpa’s went on and on, but as always this resulted in nothing, so management did what management always does when faced with truths. They held high level meetings.
They should have gotten high before the meetings. Just kidding. High level meetings are useless unless there are many low-level meetings where you ask all-important questions like, “Why do you hate us?”
Eventually you find people who will tell you the truth, but not before you go through a very many people who, like most of us, don’t. We say things like, “Well, you folks try, and that is important.” That same person gutted your work in a survey, and that is the reason you stand before them, wringing your hands, and with each faux pat on the head, you hands wring a bit less.
So when you do run into someone who does not mind telling you that you suck at what you do, that person becomes an outlier. In management’s head, the linear regression is clear. There are only a few bad apples that hate us. To the rest of them, we are okay.
But given the poor rating, you have to discover some thing that you did wrong, even though at this point you don’t believe in your heart of managerial hearts that you did anything wrong. You have to find a sin for which you will do penance, without really admitting to yourself that you sinned at all.
By some real stretches of the imagination, you dig deep into your MBA and find a phrase that both exonerates you and is worthy of penance that only a good manager could be found guilty of. We did not align ourselves with our customers.
What the hell does that mean? It is both a compliment, you were working hard, and a criticism, you weren’t working on the right things. It is also a cop-out. You never found out what you were doing wrong, so you invented something.
In our case, the answer resulted in an enormous amount of hard work, We spent months on aligning. We hired ITIL experts who told us how we needed to define ourselves, what we do, and how to measure how great we are.
Let that sink in. We did not ever look for the truth. We looked for better metrics on how good we were doing. We aligned with nothing.