The Practice Mentality

November 27, 2009
50 Views

I’ve always been a sports junkie and, in particular, a fan of SportsCenter.  Hey, we all need our escapes from the daily grind, right? While watching the Allen Iverson retirement announcement last night at a local bar, I couldn’t help but remember one of my favorite rants of all time: the infamous “Practice” monologue.

Say what you will about “AI” or “The Answer,” this is a fascinating video to watch. Unfortunately, many people on IT projects follow The Answer’s lead. Applied to new technologies and systems, I have worked with many over the years who simply don’t take testing seriously, or at least seriously enough. To them, it’s just “practice.”

Characteristics of “The Practice Mentality”

I have found over the years that “The Practice Mentality” is more prevalent than one would expect. Specifically, end-users on IT projects often and perilously:

  1. Lack a sense of urgency
  2. Pretend that tomorrow will never come
  3. Assume that others will bail them out
  4. Ignore warning signs

Let’s explore each one a little more. I’ll even throw in my “tough love” recommendations free of charge.

Lacking a sense of urgency

Many end-users do not realize that implementing a new technology



I’ve always been a sports junkie and, in particular, a fan of SportsCenter.  Hey, we all need our escapes from the daily grind, right? While watching the Allen Iverson retirement announcement last night at a local bar, I couldn’t help but remember one of my favorite rants of all time: the infamous “Practice” monologue.

Say what you will about “AI” or “The Answer,” this is a fascinating video to watch. Unfortunately, many people on IT projects follow The Answer’s lead. Applied to new technologies and systems, I have worked with many over the years who simply don’t take testing seriously, or at least seriously enough. To them, it’s just “practice.”

Characteristics of “The Practice Mentality”

I have found over the years that “The Practice Mentality” is more prevalent than one would expect. Specifically, end-users on IT projects often and perilously:

  1. Lack a sense of urgency
  2. Pretend that tomorrow will never come
  3. Assume that others will bail them out
  4. Ignore warning signs

Let’s explore each one a little more. I’ll even throw in my “tough love” recommendations free of charge.

Lacking a sense of urgency

Many end-users do not realize that implementing a new technology is analogous to building a house. You can’t decide after you added the roof that the ranch now needs to be a colonial. Consultants like me need to have clarity on major design decisions as soon as possible. At a certain point, an ostensibly minor change can cause major problems, delays, and budget overruns.

Simon says: Make major decisions as quickly as possible and hold people accountable for them. When facing a considerable bottleneck, stopping the project altogether might be a drastic step but will certainly drive the point home.

Pretending that tomorrow will never come

This one baffles me the most. I’ll admit that, say, one year out, a new system or application might be difficult for many to conceptualize. But three weeks? To quote Gob from Arrested Development, “Come on!”

I’ll never understand how people can be remotely comfortable not knowing how essential features, reports, and the like work when they will be responsible for them in one month’s time. Perhaps Steven Wilson of Porcupine Tree says it best: “Denial is a better way of getting through another day.”

Simon says: Escalate potential end-user commitment issues before they become potential showstoppers.

Assuming that others will bail them out

At some point, organizations have to cut the cord with consultants. We’re too expensive to keep around forever. During IT projects, we often save the day, finding a creative solution to an unexpected bump in the road. Lamentably, this often breeds a sort of co-dependence on the part of client end-users. Yeah, I’ll say it: consultants can be like drugs, and I’m talking about the addictive kinds.

Simon says: During the later stages of testing, management should endorse a “hands off” approach for consultants, at least to the extent possible. Dry runs will help assess end-users’ ability to fend for themselves. If current internal staff cannot handle the new demands of their jobs, think seriously about replacing them. Soon.

Ignoring warning signs

Many projects invariably reach their points of no return. Legitimate concerns raised by rabble-rousers like me often go unnoticed. The organization has to make its date, come hell or high water. If end-users don’t know how to do their jobs, then how is ignoring this fact going to make it go away?

Simon says: Don’t be afraid to move a date if key areas of the business are not ready for a new technology. The pain now be inconsequential compared to the pain later.

Related posts:

  1. Trying to Practice What I Preach
  2. In Defense of Consultants: A Punch-Out Based Rant
  3. Data Correction and Cleansing Mechanisms

You may be interested

Education and the Blockchain – Should We be Teaching Blockchain in Schools?
IT
55 shares509 views
IT
55 shares509 views

Education and the Blockchain – Should We be Teaching Blockchain in Schools?

Glen Allard - July 26, 2017

It goes without saying that tech progress is moving at a rapid pace. Futurists point to Moore’s law – the…

5 Effective Strategies for Boosting IoT Security
Internet of Things
79 shares1,468 views
Internet of Things
79 shares1,468 views

5 Effective Strategies for Boosting IoT Security

Ryan Kh - July 25, 2017

With the emergence of IoT devices that are being rolled out from time to time, the serious IoT security issues…

The Future of Healthcare and Big Pharma is in Big Data Analytics
Analytics
774 views
Analytics
774 views

The Future of Healthcare and Big Pharma is in Big Data Analytics

riteshmehta - July 25, 2017

The healthcare industry recognizes that Big Data as and opportunity and a challenge for the whole sector. Nevertheless, systems and…