The Fog of Experience

The Fog of Experience

I still remember the early days when I first started out in tech. All answers were apparent and hardly was the ink dry on the request, and I was already delivering pieces of the solution. It was a kind of “Agile”; quick, and invariably, MVP. The success factors for me were essentially the functional aspects. Value was perceived from a tech perspective.

These days, so many answers are qualified, nuanced, and accompanied by caveats. Almost nothing is clear and certain. I have discovered that value is the prerogative of the customer, and he/she expresses it in subjective terms. However, the customer is often not the only important stakeholder, and one has to address all the concerns of key stakeholders to deliver a successful service. The matrix of concerns, constraints, opportunities, etc. is a hazy mesh that takes patience, knowledge, imagination and tact to navigate.

Oh, for the halcyon rookie days, of operating below the radar of key stakeholders, architectural governance, and budget holders! For certainty and technical purity, for the stream of tactical solutions, and the buzz/hit of seeing “it” work! I still remember one moment of amazement, when a visiting consultant pointed out to me that the collection of MVPs I had laboured over for the last two years was actually a mini ERP. Those were some memorable years, in London, Edinburgh and Southampton. It was a lot of adrenalin, noise, banter, late nights, early mornings, intense work and much fun.

I now work mainly in the integration & solution architect scopes, synthesising services from business, architectural and technical inputs. Constantly scanning for opportunities to drive innovation, efficiency and competitiveness, while also reducing complexity, cost and TTM. In addition to the requisite technical and business knowledge, my role involves tact++, listening++, politics, psychology, emotional intelligence, and social strategy. It is not a straight line, there are no easy answers, there is little fizz, and you do not enjoy a fiat in any context.

Neither do I ever deliver anything alone. I always work with others, no one works for me, but rather with me: hierarchies can oft-times be an impediment. I depend on others to implement, provide or revise funding, change scope, grant a dispensation, review a requirement, move a date, or compromise in one way or another, to advance the delivery of solutions, and value to our customers. Customers are the ones that pay for our activity, and it is key that we understand their perception of value in order to consistently deliver services that they are willing to pay for.

The customer is king! But KYC cannot always be gleaned from the organogram or reading through the requirements. What may be right for one customer with a tight and close market window might be an unacceptable hack for another. The solution that was gladly embraced by customer-A in Q3 of this financial year, when revenue was trending up, could be flatly rejected in Q1 when corrections reveal shortfalls. Over time, one does gain knowledge and one does build trust, and all this widens the scope of influence. However, with such a wide matrix of interdependencies, the role is always challenging and unpredictable.

All said and done, it is still very interesting and rewarding work. It is a journey of discovery, of self and others; of building relationships and trust; of learning from failures and successes; of growing in patience and perception, and of seeing the sometimes hard-to-perceive positive impact of changes one helped to nurture. And “Yes, it is a good life, ‘Henry’“.