IOUG Insight: Square Peg and Round Hole - What to Do When the IT Solution Doesn't Fit

Lately, I have been thinking about why we try so hard to make something work, when we know it likely will not end well. This generalized statement, of course, can apply to almost anything?trying to fit in an organization that espouses different values than you do, or trying to force a poor solution to solve a business need. As IT professionals, we are wired to show successful results, and we are proud of solving problems in a timely fashion.

But what if the wrong solution has been chosen to solve a problem? Do you continue to work hard to make that solution fit at any expense, or do you raise a red flag? We know many IT projects fail miserably every year. This is no secret, and one can find statistics to support this observation from almost anywhere. I remember listening to a project manager present a session at a conference on this topic. He mentioned that most project team members know long before the project manager that they are headed for failure.

If you are working incredibly hard to make a solution fit a problem, you are likely feeling tension and inherently know that it is
not the right solution.

But rarely does anyone say anything for fear of being ostracized. They just keep their heads down and work harder. He made a point of mentioning the many millions that could be saved if people were courageous enough to stand up and voice their opinion, so that the project was cancelled or a different path was taken. This ability to stand up and voice your opinion about a solution or technology that will not solve a business problem is critical. At times, choices are made for budgetary reasons, and other times, it may be organizational pressure. But regardless of the reason, as IT professionals, we need to be courageous and do the right thing, whatever that is.

If you are working incredibly hard to make a solution fit a problem (hence, the reference to a square peg in a round hole), you are likely feeling tension and inherently know that it is not the right solution. It takes courage to speak up, but it feels better than going along with a half-baked solution that will not solve a problem and potentially damage a good relationship with your clients.Recently, I had been struggling with a personal situation in which I was time-constrained. For months, I kept telling myself that I could make it work it was just a matter of working harder, smarter, and longer hours. I just needed to become more productive with the time I had. Eventually, I could feel myself burning out and failing at everything. Regardless of those warning signs, instead of speaking up and being honest with myself, I tried even harder to make it all work. There finally came a time when I had to be honest with myself. There was no possible way I could fit everything into my life so I found the courage to make a life-changing decision.

As soon as I admitted it to myself and others, it was like a huge weight had been lifted from my shoulders. IT professionals are smart, ambitious, and driven problem solvers who take pride in their work. This is a wonderful thing, but it can also work against you. Know when to speak up, whether it is a work or personal situation. While IT professionals are incredibly smart, none of us are miracle workers. Think about what is important to you, and stop trying to fit a square peg in a round hole! Stand up for what is right!