You never let a serious crisis go to waste. And what I mean by that it’s an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before.
When I first heard this quote years ago, I was appalled, how can a public figure use a tragedy to forward their private or personal agenda. He was specifically referring to the energy crisis of the 1970 to move the country forward to a better energy policy, this never happened and the opportunity was wasted. But I’m not using this to talk about politics.
If you work in technology, it’s not if a crisis will happen, but rather, when. As a technologist I constantly have to deal with crisis. It can be as small as an employee not being able to print or as big as an entire enterprise infrastructure going down. Can you say firefight? We learn to live in chaos, controlled chaos but chaos none the less. This chaos becomes a normal part of life.
As a consultant, I have learned to embrace Rahm’s quote and to work with this state of chaos. It’s my job to help organizations embrace technology and technological change; change needs to happen. It can be scary and intimidating. If the organization procrastinates, doesn’t embrace change, crises will ensue faster and have a deeper and longer effect on day-to-day business. Again, it’s not if crisis will happen, it is when.
But let Rahm’s words ring in your ears, “Never let a good crisis go to waste”. There are times when crisis can and should be your best friend. It can help move technology forward. A stuck project, can receive an immediate and needed jump start. Moving to completion very fast.
We had a server migration staged, and down-time needed from the client in order to complete the data and system migration. The project was staged, but both the client and I procrastinated scheduling the outage and migration, till, crisis. Their existing server failed, and didn’t want to reboot. So Plan B, migrate. It was going to take quite a bit of effort to restore the server to functional state without moving forward, this was an option, restore to the exact same position prior to the outage. It was going to take a little more effort to complete the data move and migrate the systems. So the plan, migrate.
If you are in charge of technology and work as an employee of a company, when a crisis hits, most likely, you’re concerned about saving face. And hoping you’re not sacked. You may get hit with blame and fault, when the real reason maybe lack of progress in your organization. We need to learn to embrace the crisis, use it as a opportunity to reach technology goals. Depending on your situation, this may require you to face your fears and deal with management, to make a business case for your improvement.
When facing a crisis, it is always better in an environment where you can look at the crisis without fear of reprisal. To be able to learn from mistakes and retrospectively look back at issues so we can preform better in the future. But this is no reason to fear the crisis, the expected situation can be your friend and help you drive project and plan to fruition.