It’s a pretty common occurrence: a rocket launch aborted just minutes or seconds before take off. However, few observers are surprised when this happens. Most realize that there are few chances to “undo” a faulty launch, and a crash can have profound impact on lives, costs, and even the viability of an entire space program. The slightest anomaly in a checklist can be grounds to abort a lift-off.
And yet outside of the aerospace industry, people embark on IT projects despite holding many concerns or reservations. It’s not uncommon for management to say “proceed” and IT to say “we’re not comfortable with this” and get muscled into continuing.
Here are some classic lines that preceded nightmare scenarios:
“we didn’t have time to take a backup before starting”
“we assumed the documentation was thorough”
“we didn’t double-check every setting, that would have taken hours”
“that system hasn’t been restarted for as long as I can remember”
It’s called “IT” for a reason. People want information, and they want to use technology. It’s usually not called “risk management” – but when risky situations go bad, the same people say “why didn’t you TELL us this would happen?” – causing frustration and a cultural divide between technology pros and businesspeople.
Business people who truly understand the risks of their actions will abort more takeoffs. The job of the IT pro is to adequately communicate the risks/rewards to the non-technical audience. Do it wrong and you’re blamed. Do it right and if things go bad you get to say “told you so” and if things go well, you get to say “glad it worked out well!”