Avoiding Failure: The Better Part of IT Valor? - InformationWeek
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1/29/2007
01:54 PM
Tony Byrne
Tony Byrne
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Avoiding Failure: The Better Part of IT Valor?

It felt confessional to explain to a friend the other day that typically my greatest value as a consultant comes from helping enterprises avoid making a big mistake. Usually the looming mistake is selecting the wrong software for their needs. That just doesn't sound as triumphant as "restored them to profitability," or "instituted a fabulously successful publishing regimen."

It felt confessional to explain to a friend the other day that typically my greatest value as a consultant comes from helping enterprises avoid making a big mistake. Usually the looming mistake is selecting the wrong software for their needs. That just doesn't sound as triumphant as "restored them to profitability," or "instituted a fabulously successful publishing regimen."So I was heartened to read a Financial Times reprint by noted UK consultant Graham Oakes called "There's no success like failure..." (pdf). The gist of the article is that enterprises do well to experiment and fail, as long as they learn the right lessons. But I think Oakes speaks to a fundamental truth about IT when he opines, "Success comes from avoiding unnecessary failure." How do you sense an avoidable failure? Oakes lists several opportunities, including paying more attention to "what is really going on" and "what is actually possible." Do that, and you might obviate the need for an outside consultant...

Tony Byrne is founder and lead analyst at CMS Watch. Write him at tbyrne@cmswatch.com.It felt confessional to explain to a friend the other day that typically my greatest value as a consultant comes from helping enterprises avoid making a big mistake. Usually the looming mistake is selecting the wrong software for their needs. That just doesn't sound as triumphant as "restored them to profitability," or "instituted a fabulously successful publishing regimen."

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