Police Product Insight magazine (Feb-March 2014) featured my Viewpoint article: Why the angst over IT. There has been much debate and consternation in policing circles, and more widely, about having joined up IT and systems that support end to end processes. It is an old issue that predates my spell as Director of Criminal Justice at the Police IT Organisation.
I have long advocated a rapid, incremental approach to systems development and business change. I developed the ideas in my book, The Information Edge (Pitman/IMgt, 1997) where I argued that traditional legacy systems could be hidden behind a much user friendly and agile layer that protected end-users from the complexity of old systems and the changes as the legacy was replaced.
From the continuing debate it is obvious that lesson has still not been learned, most notably because of the fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD) created by vested interests of traditional suppliers of major systems and senior managers who worry their knowledge will become irrelevant. However there are glimmers of light from surprising quarters – the UK government.
Attitudes to consultancy have hardened since the financial crisis and the end of the bubble. Consultancy is no longer well regarded and is even being seen as part of the problem. In particular the reliance by public and private sector organisations on consultants in long term roles is perceived as an abrogation of management responsibility. A new approach is needed.
Creativity is not about waiting for the muse to strike. Like any skill it requires effort and practice. However you may be feeling you have to start, ready or not; to work on generating and connecting ideas.
Solidus is a consultancy that uses the creative discipline of design. Our practical approach uses knowledge, an open mind and a belief that there is a solution. It works whether it is being used to solve a problem, to turn around a difficult situation or for blue-sky thinking to create new strategy, products, design or technology. We, associates and our predecessors, have been using it in all those fields for more than 60 years.
For once I am practicing what I preach. It feels strange to have been inspired by my own writing; revising Creating and Developing a Consultancy made me think. It has been a good while since I properly reviewed my personal objectives and the Solidus business plan. Now I have what I believe to be a new vision; I am reinvigorated and excited by the possibilities.
We have gone through the whole planning regime: personal objectives, SWOT (and all the other) analysis and come to understand our capabilities. We have considered the state of the market for Solidus’ services and how I should shape them to maximise the opportunity.
Martin Wilson was brought in by one of the junior departments in a sensitive government programme. As a junior partner the department could not be seen to be disruptive but it had serious concerns about the programme scope. Martin explored the issues on an individual basis with the other parties and especially with the programme director. It showed that all were aware of problems with the programme direction, “the elephant in the room”, but felt powerless to deal with it. In just six weeks of sensitive negotiations Martin was able to generate consensus and get the programme redesigned and heading in a more appropriate direction.
Sometimes a programme or project needs fresh thinking to get it running smoothly; it may be that a health check has exposed issues.
Solidus has considerable experience with putting projects and programmes back on track. Usually it is a case of a project team using Solidus to facilitate an exploration of the challenges. Often the team are too close to the issues, Solidus helps them step back to “see the wood for the trees”. The client can then often resolve matters themselves. In extremis Solidus can take over project leadership until it is running smoothly.