Are you a revolutionary in your company? Part Two

In order to build your revolution for bringing application delivery and virtualization into a business transforming strategy you too need to write a "manifesto"/proposal

"These are the times that try men's souls.  The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman."  Like I said in the last post on this topic, I'm a history buff and this is what George Washington ordered to have read to his men at Valley Forge on Christmas Eve, shortly before crossing the Delaware.  These are Thomas Paine's words and again like I stated previously his most famous work, Common Sense was the manifesto for the American Revolution.

In order to build your revolution for bringing application delivery and virtualization into a business transforming strategy you too need to write a "manifesto"/proposal.  It's not enough to just have a Point of View; you have to be able to pass it on, to be contagious and infect others with your ideas.

This "manifesto"/proposal should do the following:

  • demonstrate the inevitability of the business and technology shift - here's why it is right, right now.
  • speak to timeless business needs - here's why you should care.
  • draw clear implications for action - here's where to start.
  • gain support - here's how you can contribute

Every single day I'm sure you hear people inside your organizations who complain and moan about what the company should be doing.  But I will guarantee that the number of people that actually ever take the trouble to write a well-reasoned "call to arms" is extremely low.

As I stated above you need to treat your efforts and your "manifesto"/proposal as a virus.  What I mean is, what can you do to make it even more infectious?  Here is what I did for my efforts inside HP.

  • I looked for what my mentor called "data mines".  What he meant was things that will "explode" when they are read.  I looked for the hard facts that challenged ingrained mindsets and created urgency.  I won't share intimate details here but suffice it to say there was a very large number of disparate environents around the world that were setup and licensed costing the company hundreds of thousands of dollars.  When I added this little "data mine" in the "manifesto"/proposal, I got a response.
  • Stay constructive.  Don't criticize. Don't rehearse past failures.  Don't look for culprits.  I was very honest in that these disparate environments that were put up for whatever reason were done out of desparation.  There was no formal process or procedure in place that would allow them to do what they needed to do.  I stated that this had to end and this is why.
  • Next I provided broad recommendations, but I made sure not to argue for a single, do-or-die course of action.  This is my suggestion to you, remember that you are launching a campaign that will need to go forward on several fronts.  Stay flexible.
  • Keep your "manifesto"/proposal short.  My "manifesto"/proposal was 4 pages.  A 60-page whitepaper isn't a "manifesto", it's a consultant's report, and it will NEVER EVER get read.  My 4-page document was passed around so many times it was like the piece of cartoon baggage with all the stickers on it.  I had a distribution list in an email so long that I had to scroll for 3 or 4 seconds to get to the last person's name.
  • My "manifesto"/proposal was opportunity focused.  Yours should be the same.  It's more likely to get read and passed around if it focuses on the upside rather than the downside.  Ask yourself, "where the big win?"  I showed management what the ultimate architecture would look like, how it would work, how much it would save in real dollars and in time saved in the way that applications were being delivered at the time.

Another guarantee that I'll make you; you will hear dozens of reasons for not doing something.  I can tell you also, from firsthand experience, when timid, backward-looking people go scrambling for an escape hatch, BOLT IT SHUT.  This will happen so be prepared.  Here are some of the things that were thrown around during my efforts:

  • We don't have the skills to do this My bolt in the door was, "we can get them and here is how we do it".
  • We don't have the bandwidth to deal with this right now.  My bolt in the door, was "we have no choice.  Here's what we should stop doing."

I had to build a case for my intellectual authority in this endeavor and you will have to as well.  The depth of my analysis and the quality of my thinking, along with the clarity of my reasoning had to come out on every page of my "manifesto"/proposal.  I also had to make sure that it was in the best interests of the organization.  You need to be sure that your "manifesto"/proposal does not contain anything that would suggest your motivation is selfish.  Even though you are passionate about the technology you need to make sure that you don't come across as some "product champion" trying to get your widget built, or some corporate wonk trying feverishly to defend a budget.  When it comes to making you into a revolutionary you can't afford to be sectarian or narrow-minded if you want to change the way your organization thinks and does things.

Here's another little history lesson to help you see my point on this.  Martin Luther King spoke for African-Americans, but he called upon all Americans to embrace justice and equality.  Unlike Malcolm X, Martin Luther King was inclusive rather than exclusive.  He understood that America could never live up to its promise if it relegated some to a permanent state of despair.

In the next post in this series I'll delve into the reasons why you need to build a coalition.  Even chairmen have to seduce, convince, and cajole to get things done and so will you.

Read "Are you a revolutionary in your company? Part One" here.

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