“It must be remembered that there is nothing more difficult to plan, more doubtful of success, nor more dangerous to manage than a new system. For the initiator has the enmity of all who would profit by the preservation of the old institution and merely lukewarm defenders in those who gain by the new ones.” – Niccolo Machiavelli
This was a quote posted on the wall by the IT Director in 1998, where I was part of a team migrating from a non-Y2K compliant ERP to one that was. Forget the fact that the quote is attributed to an Italian political philosopher who died in 1527. Forget the fact that these words have been revered by thousands upon thousands, maybe millions, who have surely received validation from them so many times before me. It wasn’t necessarily obvious to me at the time but since then I’ve learned how true these words are. For me, in my role as a striving initiator of new technology, I’m often faced with the “enmity” of those who wish to preserve the status quo.
I recognize that a business cannot and should not adopt every new technology just for technology’s sake. But using the same systems and methodologies for years, with refusal to at least examine the processes with an eye towards what’s new is foolhardy as best. It really is incumbent on us, as people who master and embrace technology to foster sustainable and disruptive technology in the enterprise. It is through our education and experiences that each company receives the broad spectrum of benefits afforded to them via innovation.
“The most damaging phrase in the language is ‘We’ve always done it this way!’ “ – Rear Admiral Grace Murray Hopper
Grace Hopper was correct; the status quo is dangerous. Why? Because on many levels technology is a living and breathing entity. Clearly not in the literal sense, but one that continues to grow each day, using both successful and failed experiences as a roadmap to advancement. Sticking to what’s always been in place stifles innovation, undercuts employee morale and cheats the business of cost cutting techniques. Need some examples? Ok, here are two:
Back to coding basics – get rid of the spaghetti and monolithic code. Modularize. Eliminate dead code. Hard coding. Use meaningful field and table names. It almost seems silly to mention this but it’s true. I still encounter new – new! – systems being developed with these old techniques. Eventually these programs are shunned by the team of developers and new “temporary” programs are put in place to work around and “fix” the results of these programs without addressing the original code. And the maintenance costs get higher and higher for the same results.
RPG – I know, I know, some programs are completely stable and written in old code. Is this reason enough to convert it? Probably not. But to clone of these programs and use that as a jumping off point for new development? Um, not so much. And that IBM has invested tons of money in updating the language is also not reason enough to use the latest incarnation. The real reason is the same of above, and that is the overall cost of software development is driven down.
“If you don’t have the time to read, you don’t have the time or the tools to write.” – Stephen King
A perfect quote for learning and working with RDi. Invest some time reading articles, watching training videos, attending a conference or have onsite private corporate training and you will quickly be as convinced as I am: in my first scenario, if you work on code using PDM and SEU for five hours you’ll have five hours of productivity. Spend two months using the same old tooling and you’ll have two months’ worth of productivity, however you measure that. In the second scenario, spend some time each week learning and using RDi and LPEX. There is absolutely nobody saying you need to learn the entire tool to become productive. After two months, you will have accomplished probably two and a half months’ worth of productivity, using the same metrics as before. Why? Because of all the additional native functionality, wizards and advancements in RDi over tried and true SEU. It’s true because it’s science – better coding through leveraging newer technology.
“The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing” – Walt Disney
“The secret of getting ahead is getting started” – Mark Twain
“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.” – Ben Franklin
“It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.” – Confucius
When I’m motivated to do something, and particularly once I get started, I almost always wonder why I didn’t start any sooner. It’s the getting started part that’s hard. Pick a topic, any topic, that’s a technology hot button today. Study it. Learn it. Apply and integrate it. Sometimes I’ll just visit an informational website and start clicking. You’d be amazed at what you can learn. Here is a great example of an IBM website which contains tons of IBM I 7.3 information – https://www.ibm.com/support/knowledgecenter/ssw_ibm_i_73/rzahg/welcome.htm It’s not too difficult to spend several hours on these sites. And this is where you will learn that you don’t know what you don’t know.
“The most effective way to do it, is to do it.” – Amelia Earhart
“Veni, vidi, vici” – Julius Caesar
What new technology, whether it be a development topic or industry-specific are you going to learn next year? We’re in technology, there will *always* be something to new to know. Pick something meaningful, something with incremental and meaningful results. This is how you stay motivated. There’s so much out there, so always remember – Get there, see it and conquer!