Artists usually ask the help of friends, visitors or even strangers for quick views on their paintings and artwork. Graphic designers follow the same practice. They relate it to the need of fresh eye. Our minds become just after 30 minutes acquainted with the idea or the work being done to the extent that discrepancies become blared. I’ve read years back that officers who work on airport control towers are trained to observe flying routes on radars for only thirty minutes and then engage briefly on something else while other observers step in to watch. This is to ‘refresh their minds’ so they can observe again carefully and guide planes safely.

Fresh eye, though it looks instantaneous, brings tangible, prompt and serious input. ‘Fresh Eyers’ shed the light on aspects the originator forgot, ignored, or his mind simply didn’t recognize. I argue that these new insights are usually fruitful, and with good intentions, are beneficial.

IT strategies are not different. In a business meeting, I had met senior people in respected IT and management Firms. We talked about different things and primarily how each one of them plans to take his company in the coming five to ten years to new business domains. One owner of them noted that while they were sailing presumably successfully in the last three years, a new manager comes on board. After spending few months with the company the new comer pointed many inconsistencies of the firm strategy and gradually engaged in modifying it along with the owners. The owner mentioned that many of the suggestions and observations the new comer brought were incredibly fruitful and he wondered how they couldn’t identify these issues themselves. I recall that he noted how a new blood and fresh eye is always required in today’s organizations.

I relate the success of my friend for two things: first is the institutionalized culture of candor and second the willingness and acceptance to disturb the norm. This firm allowed and welcomed new ideas. The owners were not stubborn or felt threatened by the new comer. The owner mentioned that over years, people were free to argue the company policies and business practices. No one is either intimidated or punished for whatever idea or statement put forward. Such culture of candor is inevitable for collaboration and successful business leadership.

Then, the willingness and acceptance to disturb the norm. Many people defends that if it works, do not touch it. This is absolutely wrong in today’s business world. Customers requirements change frequently and competition fierce day by day. Agility is the secret ingredient for success and quick response to changes. Today’s banks or utility providers are mandated to go green, so banks, for instance, start to charge for paper statements and encourage customers to go for online statements should they wish to avoid the fees for paper based statements. ‘Fresh Eyers’ enable you to explore such possibilities. Nonetheless, companies executive should be willing to accept the change and in fact own and support it. Disturbing the normal is quite fertile field of innovation; innovation of new products, services and business practices. Read more on disturbing the normal on a previous blog in this site.

We need not to wait for another financial crisis to revisit our IT or business strategies. It’s by cultivating and institutionalizing candor, transparency and norm disruption; new innovative ways of doing business and remedy of errors can be unveiled.

Mouaz Aref Al-Zayyat

Fresh eye for IT Strategy…to make sense
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