“After a time, you may find that having is not so pleasing a thing after all as wanting. It is not logical, but it is often true.” Spock, Amok Time 1967
About Jon Bellman, the Unfucker.
I care deeply about how technology is managed. My passion is to help business leaders fix their fucked up technology projects. Of course, that requires the leaders that I work with to pronounce a difficult, ego-searing admission, “Yes, our project is fucked up.”
I have worked with some of the world’s most prominent executives as they fought to bring their IT projects out of the black hole. My clients range across many industries, from Home Depot to Hertz and from SAP to Sloan Valve. The approach and techniques that I have developed are useful in all organizations and all industries.
Technology projects should be doable (practicable and feasible) and linear (critical items hew to a straight line). This contradicts the multi-threaded and noise-laden approach that technology vendors, consulting firms and your own technology executives often lead you towards. After months, when the first deadlines are missed, do you suspect that you have bought something that is rotten at the core. If you can’t see the finish line or don’t have a clear path to get there, you are lost.
I help you to clarify what you really need to accomplish (your must-haves) and then we develop a plan to de-complexify your way out of the miasma. Speed to a working solution is paramount.
Watching Star Trek’s first run in 1966-1969 shaped my perspectives. By the seventies, I was a computer nut. While studying at The Wharton School and Penn Engineering in the eighties, I started consulting for Sonoco Products and smaller companies with my friend David Rothschild, who helped me to understand that the value of a company is strongly correlated to the health of its IT portfolio.
Working for Price Waterhouse, Ernst & Young and Coopers & Lybrand as a technology consultant taught me how the world works and doesn’t work. I was often shocked by how much money clients spent on technology that failed to improve their businesses.
Earning graduate degrees at Northwestern University’s The Kellogg School and the McCormick School of Engineering opened my eyes to truly courageous and innovative perspectives from both professors and classmates. One professor, Don Frey, who ran the Ford Mustang program from concept to creation in eighteen months, taught me about the need for speed.
Working for the investment banks Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette, and Kidder, Peabody & Co., taught me about the chasm between real value and perception of value in startups and the value of predictability in established companies. This helped guide my thinking about how much risk an organization should be willing to tolerate as it considers a transformational technology endeavor.
I left Wall Street firm to address a problem that continues to mushroom. It disturbs me when great people, important goals and proven technologies fail to coalesce. I started Reality Check LLC to help companies get their wayward technology projects back on track toward producing the results that seemed so achievable on the day before the kickoff.
Sonoco Products 1985
“The most ambitious computer complex ever created. Its purpose is to correlate all computer activity aboard a starship, to provide the ultimate in vessel operation and control.” Spock, The Ultimate Computer 1968, referring to the M-5 computer which failed disastrously.
Nearly fifty years later, many enterprise-wide or transformational efforts (think ERP or EHR) fail because they are too complex and their authorizers are not accountable for their results.
Bill Shatner (Captain Kirk) and I discussing Reality Check. Note my suit – originally worn by William Schallert (Nilz Barris) playing the large project authorizer in The Trouble With Tribbles”
The many failures I’ve witnessed enabled me to write Escaping Delete: A CEO in the Black Hole to guide business, healthcare and government leaders will learn to simplify IT, overcome unwieldy projects, and steer clear of the black hole.
I believe the next twenty years will resolve these concerns. In the seventies and eighties, our leaders were too often bloated, cigar-chomping hedonists. Today’s CEOs are more likely to be lean and fit and they run triathlons. Tomorrow’s IT will also be lean and quick and will catalyze growth, not impede it. Finish lines will be attainable and visible.
Progress will come as the old technology and services industries yield to solution providers that deliver signal, not noise.
People have referred to me by the Unfucker moniker for years. Now I am embracing it and accepting it.
Why I do what I do is best addressed by the quote below:
“Earth technology and science have progressed faster than political and social knowledge. Purpose of mission. To prevent Earth's civilization from destroying itself before it can mature into a peaceful society.” Gary Seven, Assignment Earth 1968