Section 2.1. An American Success Story

2.1. An American Success Story

In a book like this, it can be tempting to focus solely on what's wrong with the technology industry. After all, there are lots of tools we can use to make IT more effective. So why not point out all the holes that need to be filled? Any serious observer would agree that there are lots of things wrong with how we structure, manage, and execute IT in this country. Plenty. But in my view, that's looking at bent nails. It's handy, but it doesn't tell you much that's helpful.

A better viewthe more informative viewis to focus on what the industry does right, to remember that American IT is a story of unparalleled success. In the span of only 30 years or so, it has achieved a level of saturation and sophistication no other industry in history can match. In fact, the main reason we are able to spot so many issues with IT is because of its runaway success. It's taken off in all directions. Look at these 2005 numbers:

  • Global IT industry spending: $1.3 trillion

  • Revenue of the U.S. Software 500: $311 billion

  • Number of electronic cash cards in circulation: 40+ million

  • Number of MRI scans: 20+ million

  • Dollar volume of online shopping: $38.3 billion

  • Number of global Internet users: 1,022,863,307

  • Number of wireless cell phone subscribers: 194,500,000

  • Number of iPods in use: 10+ million

  • Number of cities that went berserk at 12:01 a.m., January 1, 2000: 0

  • Number of emails you really didn't get that your cohorts insist they sent you: _____

And if a picture is worth a thousand statistics, Figure 2-1 is a great picture for you.

Figure 2-1. Technology is an unparalleled American success story. Not only are cell phones, email, and laptops de facto ways of life, IBM scientists have been able to harness the attractive properties of atoms to line them up in an impressive, albeit tiny, billboard.

Figure 2-1 is not a promotion for International Business Machines. It's a picture of the result IBM scientists got when they trained a bunch of atoms to line up in a row. And not only were they able to get them to line up, they were able to build a camera sensitive enough to take a picture of it. So any way you look at it, the success story is there.

The idea behind process improvement then is to capitalize on that success, to institutionalize as much if it as we can.

In the previous section, I mentioned that a good first step in making the case for process is to remember that you are the process. Here's what I mean by that. Most IT professionals know what they are doing. They follow a general routine when they work. They have a process, even if it's a personal process.

The real issue then, the Big Issue, is not about personal competence; the talent pool in American IT is pretty competent. The issue is more about coordination, consistency, synchronicity, and predictability within and across groups. An organization is not an individual. So for an organization to operate efficiently, it helps for the groups that make up the organization to work along similar lines, to approach the issues of business in a consistent way. When the organization can do this regularly and predictably, it can synchronize its energies in a focused way. Not only that, it can now begin to observe the way it works so that it can improve the way it works.

Process Improvement Essentials
Process Improvement Essentials: CMMI, Six SIGMA, and ISO 9001
ISBN: 0596102178
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2006
Pages: 116

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