The Point is To Do What is Desired, Not What is Requested

As a software creator I have learned many lessons over the years. The one I learned early on from my mentors and practice daily, is to do what is desired, not simply what is requested. This means understanding what the customer, your boss, the company is after and making sure you deliver that. This is how you delight and deliver results that are valued repeatedly. This requires curiosity, understanding, empathy, flexibility and execution. Many people blame lack of time, people or money. The resource a “rosh gadol” person has is resourcefulness.

Ultimately, fulfilling the other person’s desire is what they expect and when they don’t get what they desire there’s no value created. The explicit instruction they give can help, but completing the instruction is just a step on a journey, not the desired location.

I was reading Joel on Software’s post on “rosh gadol” and thought, this describes exactly the expectations I have of outstanding software creators and other professionals. You instantly recognize a “rosh gadol” person when you work with one. This is how you become sought after, whether you are a business or individual professional.

Tamir Nitzan explains, “For instance, someone might be told to clean the barrel of their rifle. A “rosh katan” will strictly clean the barrel, perhaps leaving it useless because the trigger mechanism has sand in it, whereas a “rosh gadol” will clean the entire rifle and lubricate it so it’s ready for use and doesn’t rust. Another example: you tell a soldier to “go notify so-and-so that we will be ready for inspection at 1600”. By 1700 you’re curious, so you ask him “did you notify?”. His answer might be “well I called his office and left a message”. A “rosh gadol” would likely say: “I called his office but got his voice mail, so I left a message. I called back an hour later but still got voice mail, so I called his cell phone and left a message there too. I tried him again an hour after that and he assured me he will be here by 1600. I called him again 20 minutes ago and he said he was on his way but stuck in traffic” (a real “rosh gadol” would have notified his C.O. of all this without being asked of course).

How Do You Generate Business Value to Flow

JD Meier has a new blog post titled Business Value Generation is the New Bottleneck. His piece got me thinking about how all of the new capabilities and re-imagining of IT is opening up new opportunities. When you have the following available, the constraints are really in how you are using these trends to grow your business and add new value.

  • Cloud. Really big computing available at your fingertips.
  • Big Data. Anything, person or activity can be recorded and stepped back through thanks to endless data banks.
  • Mobile. Doing things is no longer tied to a place. A consumer example of this is that movies no longer just at the movie theater or living room. Thanks to tablets and phones, movies are on the subway, in the waiting room and any other place.

To drive more value and increase the velocity of driving more value, JD says that the following has helped him.

  • Proven practices. Having a repository of available options and artifacts of knowledge that can be browsed and retrieved.
  • Shared language. Make sure that people are communicating and hearing the same thing. How do you talk about things so the team understands, instead of each individual pulling an analogy out of their personal history and pushing it to the group?
  • Mental models. Context is kind, because relevancy is king. How do you frame the problem and also how do you frame the potential way you are going to address the problem? Sometimes businesses take the problem as a given and do not do the due diligence of properly framing the problem itself or evaluating different ways of framing the problem. It’s straight to the solution for some. This can be costly though. Also, how do you frame how you will address the problem? Are you going to address it with a Minimal Viable Product (MP) or are you going to address it with a solution that fits this one customer’s every desire exactly? Are you going to frame the solution in terms of patterns and have discussions around WHY certain patterns are being chosen? Or, are you going to spend time discussing how long it is going to take or how hard something might be?

These are definitely important things that when approached diligently and thoughtfully worked through as a team can increase the velocity with which the business can delivery more value. For example, maybe your business has a bottleneck in creating value because instead of framing the problem, experienced staff are taking the problem as given and prescribing a solution right away with a technology they have been using for the past 10 years. Maybe reframing the problem would lead to deeper discussions that will grow the business by offering a new service in the cloud that requires less time to integrate client-systems with.