On Selling Ideas

I have spent the better part of the past year and a half trying to do the right thing for the enterprise in selling ideas that would both make IT more efficient as well as increasing both the depth and number of opportunities for the business.

  • Team Foundation Server to replace FogBugz/Vault
  • The use of SSAS in SQL 2005 to replace manual querying by business analysts against a 9TB database
  • The adoption of agile processes like Scrum where no process existed and business customers of IT had real legitimate needs to help shape the products during the development cycle due to changing requirements of our external customers.
  • The move away from a 9TB OLTP database that housed both application data as well as reference data to a centralized data warehouse to store the reference data and a separate set of application databases.
  • The fundamental need for a formal architecture team as the IT staff and applications grew exponentially and we are left fighting fires of poor or under-architected solutions.

There is more, but this is the top of the list.

I gained a number of allies in this campaign, most of which have since departed for various reasons. Maybe central to these reasons is the fact that the organization as a whole has rejected the efforts to go forward with these items.

How much of this must I take responsibility for? Is it up to me to be successful in persuasion? I am a technologist at heart and so when I try and "sell" an idea, I approach it logically and analytically to prove why Option A is better than Option B or Option C. Due diligence should prevail along with logic and reason, should it not?

In retrospect, I think I have learned that the political and personal motivations are and can be much more important to some when determining what to support and help perpetuate within an organization.

Maybe I should have been far more diplomatic in my approach, been more sensitive to the motivators of people that might be different than mine. In some ways, I consider this past year or so a major loss, a major defeat. But in others, a great win, because in losing, I learned a lot.

These lessons will only serve, I believe, to deepen my wisdom and provide experience to draw from in future attempts to "sell an idea" that I think is right.

Tags: selling, architecture, enterprise architecture, persuasion