Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Ensuring a strong structure

Eric Clapton once sang of a weak foundation made of clay. Yesterday I mentioned that agreeing upfront on the specifics concerning your program will help your program have a firm foundation. A weak clay foundation would sink or crumble under the weight of your program, rather than providing the proper support.

Have you checked your foundation yet? Like a well-built house, is your program sitting on a solid foundation?

If yes, is the rest of the program's structure intact and strong? Like the walls and roof of a house, will your program withstand the equivalents of wind, rain, sleet and snow?

And finally, is there an exit strategy for those working on the program? Can they grow and move onto other positions? If the program fails, can you place them elsewhere or provide assistance to them as they look for another job? Do you have succession plans in place (formally or informally)? (We might equate this to the doors, windows and emergency exit on your house.)

An exit strategy? Surely I must be kidding! No, not really. Even if it is not formal, you need to think about this stuff. There is always a chance that a digitization program will lose funding or run into other difficulties (e.g., bad partners). When that happens, what will you do? Can you save what's been completed? And can you help your colleagues who may feel and be rejected?

And if the program succeeds, can your team move onto other things or will they be locked into maintaining this program? Will their only means of escape be quitting or can they be promoted (or move to another project)?

Something to think about over your afternoon tea...

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