The value of being pragmatic versus being perfect

I´m not new at writing and I really wanted my first post in LinkedIn to be the perfect presentation of my “writing skills and Cloud skills”. I knew exactly how I wanted to put down my thoughts about the subject of this post, and I had it for several months by now. But that striving for writing the very best I could has had…..procrastinating this post and dedicating my time to other tasks. But then I finally said…what the heck, let´s throw it, get on with the comments –if any- and the next one, I will try to do it better. Let´s be pragmatic, and in the next few paragraphs I´ll try to explain why I think this was a good move.

Imagine this scenario: the CEO or the president of your company calls you to her or his office and asks you that she or he thinks that the company needs to be much better and much quicker to come up with innovative ideas and products, and that she or he thinks that part of the problem resides in that the current IT model is not efficient and agile enough. She or he has been told that adopting and transitioning to Cloud Computing could be a great solution to improve business and operations…. so this is the request that she or he does to you (whether you’re are a CIO, IT Director, VP of technology or a trusted employee):

I want you to come up with a plan and a budget to transition our systems and applications to a Cloud Computing model. I want it with minimum risk not to disrupt our current ongoing business operations, and of course it has to be highly secure and compliant with the must have regulations of our industry and of the countries where we do business.

Of course, you want to do such a great job and impress your CEO that you tell yourself: “I have to be perfect”.

That´s probably one of the most frustrating imperatives that any can tell us, or even to ourselves, and you might even find that if you strive for perfection from the first moment, it might be a big stopper for activity and usually, big time stopper for creativity.

Expectation of one being always perfect is a great responsibility and a big stress. Think about those musicians or writers that after coming out with a great album or a great book had the pressure of making another perfect bestselling work. Many artists could not pass this test and drifted away in history and creativity, often because not being able to reach other people’s expectations of perfection. And also because “perfection” is a moving target.

On the other side, and not really in contradiction with perfection, there is the pragmatism. Summarizing briefly from Wikipedia, pragmatism was a philosophical trend in the late 19th century, based on the idea that the function of thought is as an instrument or tool for prediction, action, and problem solving. Pragmatists contend that most philosophical topics–such as the nature of knowledge, language, concepts, meaning, belief, and science–are all best viewed in terms of their practical uses and successes rather than in terms of representative accuracy. And it´s worth reviewing the synonyms: practical, functional, utilitarian, realistic….

I believe that we can get more value when starting projects or works with a pragmatic approach, that at least will get us moving, acting and doing, and then we can strive to incrementally improve it, like in a road to perfection, like from good to great.

In a transition or adoption to Cloud computing, I support the idea of starting with clear business goals (but not too many), and from there take a pragmatic approach that leads to a step by step design and deployment but without losing sight of the big picture, the business, its customers and the user´s requirements.

The value of being pragmatic is one of the core values of Cloud computing. For example, do you really need to specify in an RFP/RFQ all the complexity involved in the computing elements (operating system, memory, database…..) to implement the ultimate configuration of the Order to Cash process, when the business goal is to gain market share for the wonderful designed shoes you sell? Or would a modern Cloud CRM SaaS solution with out of the box integration with your ERP would suffice?

Just to name a few, there are some of the benefits of taking a pragmatic approach when transitioning to Cloud:

  • Define an easy and practical architecture, based on business process and business goals and not on technology for technology sake
  • You can have faster, quicker proof of concepts and/or working prototypes, and start improving incrementally from there (and that is, for instance, one of the principals of the Design Thinking frameworks for innovation)
  • You can save big on implementation costs. If you take the most standard and critical processes implemented first and define your set of “must have” configured processes since they are the 80% of your business, then polish them in incremental improvements. That also imply much less risk of failures
  • Go for a practical approach on Security, odds are that your Cloud providers have much bigger, costly and many more security certifications that your company will ever need.
  • With the Cloud, even the small companies can have a good plan for disaster recovery and Business Continuity
  • Don’t go for a Big Bang, not only it´s risky but you might find the company and its ecosystem unprepared for too many changes.
  • Go as much configuration (standard) and as little customizing (nonstandard) in your Cloud software. Remember Pareto´s principle? 80% standard processes, 20% customized ones. However the cost of doing them is proportionally inverse. That 20% of customization will take 80% of the costs and the resources.

When transitioning to Cloud you don’t need to be perfect, just try to be a perfectionist, step by step. Way to go for Innovation.

Adopt a Cloud!

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