There’s a particular type of tech minded person who is so focused on ‘disrupting’, ‘innovating’ or ‘problem solving’ that they seem allergic to doing the due diligence on what’s gone before.
Even with the best of intentions, this can be draining, wasteful and sometimes downright dangerous.
They come up with a big new idea, it’s something that’s not being done obviously in the part of the organisation they are working in, and they dive right in, cutting through bureaucracy and getting stuff done. With any small early success, they may well then go on to be a ‘thought leader’ on the problem, urging everyone to take up this magical new thing that they have been driving forwards.
If it’s truly new ground, then this can be a great thing, moving forwards the state of the art.
The problem manifests when this person hasn’t done their due diligence. They haven’t stopped to review what’s already going on in the space. They don’t know who else is working on the same issues and they have no idea why things are the way they are right now.
They annoy people already working on the problem. They work on things that have already been solved, covering old ground multiple times. They ignore vital checks and balances that ensure fairness as they don’t stop to wonder why those check were put in place in the first place.
So, don’t be that person. Be the person who understands why a fence is there before trying to take it down.
When you spot a possible problem, ask some quesstions:
- Does anyone else think this is an issue?
- What was tried in the past to fix this?
- What’s being done about it right now?
- What’s been done in similar organisations to solve this problem?
- What research or other information informs solutions to this problem?
- Who can I support to bring about a change?
Once you have collected this information, then you should be well enough armed to drive forwards a positive change, rather than just re-treading the ground someone else is already covering.
Smart people Observe, Orient, Decide and then Act.