“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
My passion is to help business leaders fix their technology projects. Of course, that requires the leaders that I work with to pronounce the difficult, ego-searing admission, “Yes, we screwed up.”
I have worked with great 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 apply in all organizations and all industries.
Technology projects should be doable (practical 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 technologists often lead you towards. Months into an overblown project, when the first deadlines are missed, do you suspect that you have bought something that is rotten at the core. When you lose sight of the finish line or don’t have a clear path to get there, you are lost.
Sonoco Products 1985
I help clarify what you need to accomplish your must-haves and we develop a plan. Speed to a working solution is paramount.
Approach & Influences:
Star Trek’s first run in 1966-1969 shaped my perspectives. By the seventies, I was a computer nerd, running my high school's computer operations. While studying at The Wharton School and Penn Engineering in the eighties, I consulted at Sonoco Products and at 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 the technology game. I was often shocked by how much money clients spent on information systems that failed to improve their businesses.
Earning graduate degrees at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School and McCormick School of Engineering opened my eyes to 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 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 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.
“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 to simplify IT, overcome unwieldy projects, and steer clear of the black hole.
I believe the next twenty years will resolve these concerns. Tomorrow’s IT will be lean and quick and will catalyze growth, not impede it. Finish lines will be visible and attainable.
Progress will come as the old technology and services industries yield to solution providers that deliver signal, not noise.
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