Wednesday, August 12, 2009

WHAT Ivory Tower? (1/12)

It used to be that everything seemed so simple, so easy, so clear here in the technology planning ivory tower! What ever happened to the good old days? You know the ones -- when customers gladly scooped up every new idea, every new technology, every new brainchild that we thought up?

Sometimes it seemed as if there was no stopping us. As if we truly DID have all the bright ideas, locked up with us, right here in the tower. Every now and then, all we had to do was float one or two of them out the tower's window, let it waft past the Board of Directors, and off we would follow it, while the money kept rolling in! What ever happened to those good old days when the "planning was easy" -- and so was the money!

Well, even way back then (don't the 1990s seem a LONG, LONG time ago, in some ways?), there was more planning going on than we realized. Maybe we just didn't always call it that -- or even recognize it as such.

Maybe, way back "in the day," those entrepreneurial upstarts who had a bold, new, brilliant and creative idea, really weren't so uniquely inspired after all! Where were those ideas coming from? More often than not, those technical inspirations emanated exactly as they should do -- as they MUST do -- from the customers.

Engineers, working shoulder to shoulder with customers, often saw opportunities. They developed ideas to fill gaps in their current employers' product set. They saw INSIDE the customers' environments and knew them like their own. And voila -- an insight occurred, a potential product was defined, an engineer decided to become a CEO and an entrepreneurial company was off to the races.

Designing was fast and fun. After all, the knowledge was already there, developed while working with the customer, on his requirements. Products seemed to fly off the paper (or computer) and onto the production floor. Everything was expedited. The vision was clear, the reasons were documented and the ivory tower hadn't even been built yet!

Part 1 of 12, by Marilyn (Lyn) Gosz, Gosz Group Technology Planners