July 23, 2015 | Tanu McCabe
“You have died of diphtheria.” If this message seems familiar, it’s probably because you’re like me and played ‘Oregon Trail’ as a child. This game appealed to me because I was fascinated by the plight of the pioneers. Perseverance in the face of adversity was something that I admired and wanted to emulate.
Fast forward several years and I have now become an IT professional. Instead of transporting a covered wagon of goods to unexplored lands, I and my teams help guide clients in traversing new technological terrain. Most recently, this has been focused on pioneering Rugged DevOps cloud-based solutions that integrate security and use automation to eliminate human error.
Federal champions oftentimes find themselves taking great risks towards the allure of a great reward. To mitigate those risks, the following are the top 3 pieces of advice that I can give based on my experience working with some of the most forward thinking federal champions in the government today to establish the first enterprise cloud systems, services and applications.
- 1. – Adoption of new technology
A tool is only as effective as the people and processes that use it. Good technology, in my experience, is usually disruptive technology. Disruption means change, which means managing organizational change must be considered in order for success. People, both end users and administrators, need to be able to use the tool effectively. There’s a lot of emphasis on ‘user experience’ and ‘user focused design’ and that is all well and good; however, there needs to also be emphasis on onboarding and operations and maintenance processes and procedures to ensure that users can quickly get up to speed on using the tool, and administrators understand how to sustain it.
- 2. – Exit strategy
There are inherent risks with being the first one to do anything. One thing to consider to mitigate risk at the beginning of a new endeavor, whether it be a new cloud service, migrating a cloud system, or developing a new application, is the exit strategy. What is the point or threshold at which a decision is made to not continue or to change gears? In the spirit of Agile, ‘fail fast’ if you’re going to fail at all, and allow quick course correction towards success.
- 3. – Leverage
Pioneers were oftentimes independent, taking the lead where others sought to follow, yet building on the lessons learned of those that went before. One of the biggest lessons in history is to learn what not to repeat. Innovation doesn’t mean starting over every single time. I’m a proponent of open source culture: collaboration can work in your favor, leverage lessons learned to expedite your delivery and mitigate your risk, and have fun while adding value.
Being a technological pioneer can still be an uphill battle, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. Constantly learning, persevering, overcoming adversity, and helping others along the way; all in all, it’s a great way to forge ahead.