Lessons Learned (Again): Listen to your inside voice, even if that inside voice sings Taylor Swift

My past two weeks in a nutshell: You know when you have a charge and it seems fairly straightforward and a solution presents itself before you even start work ing on it and each conversation with others consists of nods and ‘yes, yes that’s a great way to handle it’ and you build a charter around the timeline and execution with your project management office and you’re starting to imagine the implementation and pieces are failing together and yet (holy run-on sentence) — there’s an inkling of it all absolutely not feeling right? The plan is tight, the conversations with those that will need to support the effort throughout and moving forward are verbally all-in (most of the time) but this itch of internal doubt persists?

Most people that know me recognize two things: I’m excited about the work I do and the entire business surrounding it. Also, I oversimplify. Why? Because I don’t get bogged down in the neediness and amazeballsness of technology itself. I focus on the expected impact and improved outcome and simply push to get there, devoid of frills and fanfare. It’s almost impossible for me to get sidetracked because I’m always keeping my eye on the prize – completion, success.

While oversimplification has worked for me in lessening fear of change in others and supporting the KISS presentation of tech plans to non-acronym, anti-tech jargon crowds (MY PEOPLE!), sometimes when a plan looks and feels too simple, it simply is. Simple does not always equate to easy in technology project plans, but it does infer a lack of complexity and, depending on ‘the WHY’, the plan needs to appropriately reflect the issue-you’re-trying-to-address level of complexity.

Basically, when that itch of internal doubt keeps rearing its head, scratch the itch. Explore the doubt. We almost embarked on a plan mismatch this past week that would have not only barely scratched the issue surface but I fear the sense of success-emptiness would have been almost impossible to define post-implementation.

First thoughts upon realizing this mismatch of plan v goal:

My gosh was this a wasted year while a team of individuals poured their hearts and souls into this plan for solution? 

My timeline! (GASP)

How did I not see this sooner?

And yet…peace. Ye olde inside voice was absolutely right. And not only was the inside voice right, but the individuals who saw significant flaws with the impending plan and execution were dead right!  The planned and proposed solution, while brilliant, would not have been effective nor an appropriate first step. In the wise words of Taylor Swift, “Bandaids don’t fix bullet holes” and in this particular case, like so many cases in large businesses and on large campuses, a foundation needs to be built with a variety of supporting tasks to continually bolster that foundation when trying to adjust and re-focus long-standing cultural and operational deficiencies.

So, what did we do? We rebooted. Together. As a campus team. We gathered around a table and all opened up the wound. And we’ve put together a more comprehensive, longer timelined solution that is a right-fit for the problem. Sometimes a solution isn’t simply the rollout of a new technology or a switch-flip. Complex business has sprawling needs that require continuous improvement attention and, as this issue pertains to classrooms and classroom support at the university, pretty sure that’s worthy of a continuous improvement effort. A deep issue that we almost tried to loosely bandage. Thank you inside voice! And thank you to this amazing team of campus technology leaders that humored my digging and helped us all craft a better path forward.

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