The question I get asked all of the time is what do I do exactly. If you are a programmer, people understand. When I did hardware and software support, people understand that too. People understand networking. What is hard to explain is what exactly I do.
I could take a cop out, which I usually do, “I manage software programmers and do middle management.” I throw in project management because I do that too. But, it only covers some of it.
This is what I do. I draw pictures on white boards.
Seriously though – I take a business strategy for say, product repairs, and help the business figure out how that would break down from a process standpoint. A process being how exactly you are going to accomplish the task(s) related to the strategy. Once you have a process defined, how the work flows between people and/or decision points, you have the basis for what systems are needed. You, then look at what systems you have, and determine can they be used with minimal change – or are new ones needed.
Flowcharts on whiteboards (then in Visio) are my specialty. This is how I look at a problem. In pictures. I find pictures gets everyone on the same page. It is a diagram, that even when not around, people can pull up in their mind and refer to. This one above is pretty well fleshed out.
Through the flowchart, the issues and questions just pop out. It’s amazing how it works really. In this case, I actually created a Venn Diagram to explain why there is a problem. If you have kids who are learning Venn Diagrams and they are wondering if they will ever use them again, here is proof that they will. I use them ALL the time to illustrate a point of contention.
There were about 5 of us gathered around the whiteboard which happens to be outside of the CIO’s office in the middle of a frequently travelled hall. There were times when we had about 10 people standing around looking at this, interjecting concerns, pointing out issues, and asking questions. I usually create a giant list of these issues and question just to keep things going. If they are on the board, people move on to other questions and topics. I find they don’t often dwell. I mean, they see it was captured.
I love this type of collaboration. I love the dialog. I love the debates we get into. And, I love it when the naysayers have nothing to say but “oh”. I also love it when people realize how simple something can be done when they were trying to make it too complicated.
This process work was a result of a strategy presentation we saw last night from 5-6:30pm. I hit a point in a meeting this morning where the lightbulb went on as to how it would all fit together in real life. (Strategy presentations rarely translate to the real world. I mean strategy is, by its nature, up-in-the-clouds type of stuff.) After the lightbulb went on, I started the flowchart in my notebook during our staff meeting. I find I think best with a pen in my hand and a blank piece of paper. (Or on whiteboards – I have 3 of them in my cube!)
Anyway, this is what I do. I problem solve.
What can I say? I love giant puzzles.