Hovering around “The Answer”

No matter how many times it occurs, it still amazes me.  I see different people with different backgrounds, resources, and experiences take completely different paths yet still arrive at approximately the same “destination” or “answer”.

They travel at different rates of speed and meet different people.  They gather and use different resources, but they begin to see and compete for the same final component to their “need”.

Are You the Obstacle?

What they also frequently have in common is that although they experience the same “Ah ha this is what I need”, they also proceed to impede the final piece – the tool, the solution, or component – from actually working in the manner needed to achieve the “ah ha” results.

The intuitive recognition of “this is what we’ve been looking for” gets overridden by the existing methods, practices, or momentum of how things are currently done.  This translates into a creation of “more of the same’ done with a twist, fancier tools, or a new façade.  What the intuitive side or “gut instinct”  or business intuition has told them to see is lost within the system they continue to operate.

Seek and Ye Shall Find…What You Expected

Have you ever looked for a new way of doing business with your customers?  How did you go about looking for that new way?  Did you start by understanding how you currently do business?  Did you look for available alternatives and tools and benchmarked how others do it?  Did you talk to your customers and see what they need?  Did you listen?  Or did you send out a request for quotes on how your business does business today and see how much it would cost to automate the existing process to new technology?

When you were looking at options, did you automatically assume the budget wouldn’t allow you to do what you really want, so you settle for less than you want?  Did you start by asking for less than you need or for what you have now because you didn’t know where to begin to define what it is you really need?

Who helped set up the metrics, measures, and requirements of what you are looking for?  Who helped you explore the possibilities?  Those involved in the current system?  Or those who want to be involved in the next one?

Creating, finding, and/or implementing new ideas and systems successfully requires an ability to get outside the comfort zone within the parameters of existing processes, people, and systems.  It requires the ability to look at where you are and what you have as well as where you want to go and what you want to achieve.  Then you can meld the two.  The solution and revolution lies at the intersection and acceptance of the “state of grace” between the today and tomorrow.

Check Your Assumptions and Preconceptions at the Door

Both experience and inexperience can prevent an organization or an individual from accepting the very answer intuitively sought and recognized.  The nature of the organization and existing “resources” to defend the status quo and territory will inevitably create issues.  The inability to define precisely “what is needed’ in the new state will tend to create the need to define things as “the way we do it today,” even when “today” isn’t working.  The existing acquisition processes tend to favor the incumbent stakeholders and vendors when generating requirements and requests for proposals.  Even efforts to ensure “fairness” and “level playing fields” in contracting – for example, in government contracts where 8(a) set asides may be used – can lead to awards of contracts for more of the same because the solicitations are written for more of the same tools and the proposals “fit”.

The “answer” to many of the problems everyone is dancing around begins before the solicitation, before the traditional mechanisms of process begin.   Solutions require a shift in paradigms, processes, and business.  This occurs when the failures of systems, performance, and opportunity are recognized, when services and solutions are sought to intercede in the upstream flow of ideas and definitions of what is to be acquired, whether tools, solutions, or services.  Everyone is looking for answers.  The solutions may just need to be found earlier in the process for meaningful changes to take place at all levels of the organization.

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