Digital Off-The-Roadmap

by Wiemer KuikOctober 16, 2018

“What are you thinking about?” Well, nothing really.Just tell me what you feel! Uh, uh, nothing at the moment. You got to feel something! Listen Woman: You have to go to mindfulness training, you do your yoga class, you do all the Zen stuff. And without doing all of that, I can just just sit here and enjoy the moment in full, don’t think or feel a thing!


The list

Nothing of this response to my wife will ever be said out loud. Never, ever! Married for a long time, and very happily married for that, I keep some of my thoughts for myself. There are other things I never say aloud. Like when my wife reminds me of all the things I promised to do around the house, THE LIST. I will never say: Listen, I know that List. No need to remind me every 3 months! And for whatever reason: whenever I start working on the List, every item seems to take only 5 minutes. Strange. You wait 3 months to act and it only takes 5 minutes, And as long as I have the List, I cannot start new projects. Items on the List, no new fun stuff. That is how the system works.


I see a very similar list in my work with digital transformation. The list is called Roadmap. And on that list is the always fun topic of Technical Debt. The list is looking forward for years. Lots and lots of items on the list. And as long as that list is in place, and not done in full, no new item can be taken added.

All the, mostly male, behavior in IT dealing with the Roadmap is identical. Postponing the items on the list, the mental blockage not to add any new items. There is the current state of IT, it does not support the new value propositions and business models needed to ensure continuity of the company. But as long as the Roadmap is there, and not being dealt with, nothing will happen. And the business will suffer.


The justification is also similar. Many bogus reasons come up. One approach is to hire yet another high end consulting firm. Create yet another cool Powerpoint deck. Describing almost the same future state, for 2025. And then another consulting firm, with yet another slide deck. Anything to avoid actual starting, to get from A to B, to take the first step.

Another justification is even more interesting. It’s called: In the past everything was better. It starts with looking at today, what is in place today in IT. Then they look at the new items, and disqualify them as the current state is clearly better. Very hard to overcome, very sticky. Keep the old in place, don’t move, don’t act.


There is a solution to this I learned over the years. It’s very simple. And highly effective. Imagine someone says Lego is better than Minecraft. Just swap the sequence. Now ask them to look at this the other way around. Imagine Minecraft was first and Lego came later. Then they will argue that Minecraft is far better. It’s cheaper, much more social than lego. Cheaper. And it does not hurt your feet like hell when you sneak to the fridge at night and you step on one. Digital lego in a digital age.

Let’s imagine books were later than the Ipad. The Ipad is now much better than books. It contains all the books you ever want, you can search, make summaries, annotate, read at night. Play with your friends, not sit alone in a corner. And do a million other things with it. And books: waste of paper, not green. And what do you do once you have read them? They take up space, lots of space. Books now have little place in the digital age.

Digital off-the-roadmap

Once you can help a company, and specifically the IT department, to overcome the in the past was everything better mindset the next action is to create a new list. The digital off-the-roadmap. The digital off-the-roadmap contains all the new items that are needed to change the business model, to change to value proposition, to transform. To adopt to the new digital reality. To stay in business. The items to support the digital transformation, the new strategy in a digital age.

And everytime an item of the old roadmap gets in the way of the new list, in the way of the new digital items really needed to lower Capex, to deliver true business relevant IT services, to adopt to ever changing customers expectations: just do the swap what was first trick. Put public cloud before on-premise hardware. Put Machine Learning before unmaintainable decision trees in old code.

Creating slide decks about the new shiny future, about point B is nice, and then again taking the first step from A to B, start executing on your digital off-the-roadmap is what is really needed.