I’ve spent the first decade of my career – yes, that’s 10 big, deadline driven, years of my life – architecting, designing and implementing multi-million dollar enterprise technology solutions, for clients that you know. We’re not talking about Bill’s corner fish and chip shop here (but Bill if you’re reading, I’m always happy to help).
Actually come to think of it, if you combined the expenditure of the projects that I’ve been involved in, it would be upwards of several billions of dollars. That’s kind of cool, right? Dare I say, even a little bit impressive?
But before you decide that we should be Facebook friends; let me tell you that no, HELL NO – it’s not cool, nor is it impressive.
It’s not cool or impressive to blow hundreds of millions or billions of dollars on IT systems, which often end up collecting dust, (if they even make it to that point). Everyone apparently knows this, but people still do it – we’re talking about highly educated business and political leaders here.
Why do they do it?
- They think it’s okay if everyone else is doing it
- They don’t want to be left behind
- They don’t know any better
Interestingly, these same reasons could be used for most questionable decisions in life.
Don’t get me wrong. Succinct, well defined business problems can definitely benefit from the support that the right technology can provide, and I’ve been involved with many successful programs along the way. But technology on its own is rarely ever the answer. Using technology to solve poorly defined problems, or to force through untested, ‘new and improved’ business processes to make an organisation clean and shiny, is just a waste of time and money. The number of IT projects that fail (failure meaning that they go over the allocated time, budget, or increase in scope), is unacceptable. It’s just too high.
When businesses that have millions or billions of dollars, and access to the best and brightest people in the game have tech projects that – fail – what chance does everyone else have?
I’ve learnt a hell of a lot in the last 10 years, and had the opportunity to solve some incredibly difficult problems working alongside some of the brightest people I’ve had the pleasure of knowing, many of whom I’m still in contact with today.
Working as a woman in the IT industry has also allowed me to develop a set of skills which you’ll never see on a resume. These include a pretty decent bullshit radar, a knack for dealing with interesting personalities, and game plans for approaching a range of often interesting situations. These are not things that you learn in school, or from reading a book, but they can be taught; and I’ve passed many of my insights on to others that I’ve met along the way. Street smarts, baby.
It’s those same skills that I’ve come to rely on over the last few months as I’ve ventured into the startup scene. It lends itself well with the fluffy, content driven domain of the times, which you can expose yourself to on Twitter at around 10am on any given weekday, regardless of where you are in the world.
Everyone has advice, or a handy list of must-do’s, or a cute retro looking infographic; and they’ll offer it for free if it means that you might visit their website, and help out with their A/B testing, to influence their Google Analytics, which will magically increase their SEO rankings (but not make them number 1, we’re aiming for number 2 here), whilst they Growth-Hack their socks off. Even if they’re not sure why they’re doing it all, because you-know, it was point number 3 in the last social marketing article they read.
If only Google was like some of the shady police in those countries that may or may-not take bribes – the media could call it ‘cash for rankings’, and startups would be lining up.
Even after knowing all of this, I still find myself surprised when I see how much of the ‘content’ produced by people today – self professed thought leaders – is so full of crap. So much content is useless, or wrong, or could actually be dangerous. Seriously people, TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS, don’t blindly follow advice from every blog post or article, make up your own mind.
Most of the startups that I’ve come across in the last few months have a great desire to succeed. But when you cross the high failure rate of startups, with the high failure rate of IT projects, the odds are working against tech startups from the outset. The tech startups that are hoping to make it big have to work twice as hard to succeed, with the hope that success tastes twice as good. But in the end, that’s pretty much what it’s all about. Plain. Old. Hope.
It’s in our Aussie nature to back the underdog, and I really do hope that you’ll find some little titbit of useful information on this site to use on your journey of beating the odds and making your dream startup a success.
Always remember to trust your instincts – your startup, your rules.
(ooh, I should totally get that on a t-shirt).