Beyond MA - Action Beats Analysis

Action Beats Analysis

Hutton Henry

Today there is a plethora of technology devices to track your health, usually to determine your activity.  There’s wearable watches, rings, clothing etc. which can go into great detail about how many steps, workouts and how often you’re standing.  These devices are maturing, now working out inactivity, your sleep quality and helping people to meditate.  One description of a device says it all “digitizing your exact movements for immediate feedback and live sharing”.

The devices give you a ton of information, graphs and trends about your wellbeing.  And it’s well know that “what gets measured, gets done” to paraphrase.

I understand that having “stats” can be motivating, I use a lot of these devices myself.

Yet, there’s another option – just take action.

Instead of developing routines driven by our habit of data, why not take action instead?

Analysis vs Action in Business

For decades, if you wanted to plan a decent technology change programme you needed to put forward a period of assessment – be it 5 days or 5 months, we needed to get a clear picture of the lay of the land and use this information to help formulate a new plan and tech design.  It, of course, makes sense to do this because it’s difficult to plan a change without knowing what you’re going to change.

Yet, we started to see a change in business a few years ago. 

Any proposal to analyse a company, team or technology environment was being pushed back – partly due to the time it took to collect the information and expense; but mostly because there was no movement.   Nothing had changed during this first assessment, it’s like an expensive audit without any actual results (a plan, does not constitute a result).

Back to the drawing board

So the next attempt to address this was to present the entire programme of work to the customers, outlining the expected transformation, costs and durations as a single proposal.  But this was pushed-back as well by potential clients – because now the cost looked too expensive.  Often this meant that we would spend weeks go back and forth with the client, reducing the proposal content so that it was more palatable.  But by the time the proposal itself had been updated (up to 20 times!) it was no longer relatable to the task in hand and greatly reduced in scope and cost.  Basically it would be a programme of work in principle that would unlikely benefit either party.

Constrained Creativity

To solve this “analysis” concern and create projects that are more “active” we needed to borrow from other disciplines within our business.  We have been working with Private Equity and Strategic Buyers to assess technology teams and environments as a IT Due Diligence exercise. 

During these projects, a very finite limitation is presented to us – time, we are often only granted a couple of days access to the team and their technology environments.  We often get results back to clients within 5-10 days. 

This constrained situation meant we needed to innovate and be creative to be effective – resulting in constrained creativity.  To make the assessments detailed and as accurate as possible, we had to develop a process and the right questions to ensure we get 80% of the information we need to make a change.

Unlike traditional tech projects which often add a major “human overhead” in thinking, being given a short timeframe makes us think creatively and this is more rewarding for all – the customer gets what they want, quickly, and we get out of “analysis” mode and into “action” much quiker – making our technology practice far more secure.

Putting it together

By taking the urgency from the “M&A guys” who, quite frankly, are able to make investment decisions which often result in spending millions we speed-up the traditional technology project.

If we propose a short, yet highly effective, short analysis period coupled with the follow-up planning, design and delivery it becomes a much more compelling reason to work together.  Of course, the transformation team will be continuously learning as they spend more time on the project and there needs to be slightly more understanding and management of risk management.

This approach work really well for the purse-string holders, as they can see a result in the proposals.  For the traditionalist technology team members, they can often struggle at first, as they will automatically assume that it will take weeks or months to assess environments.  So this approach often needs slightly more selling to show its benefits, but ultimately it suits businesses who want structure and speed in order to deliver in an ever-competitive digital landscape.

Having spent time analysing and writing this today – practicing what I believe that action beats analysis, I’ll stop looking at my wearable tech, I am now off to exercise.

 

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