The System Would Be Great If It Wasn’t For The Users

Written by Todd L. Michaud
May 24th, 2010

Franchisee Columnist Todd Michaud has spent the last 16 years trying to fight IT issues, with the last six years focused on franchisee IT issues. He is currently responsible for IT at Focus Brands (Cinnabon, Carvel, Schlotzsky’s and Moe’s Southwestern Grill).

Whoever said the customer is always right never worked in IT. The person who came up with that catchy little credo has not toiled away countless days, months or even years building systems that he knew were flawed, only to be blamed (or even fired) for the poor outcome. That person has never pleaded, even begged, business partners not to take a certain approach because he knew things would end badly.

Most CIOs know this pain, and know it well. It’s a no-win situation. If they build it the way the partner wants, they watch failure in slow motion. If built the way the CIO thinks it should be done, you might as well hand over torches and pitch-forks to an over-tired crowd.

If you have ever played blackjack, you know there is a socially accepted set of rules on how the game should be played. Based upon the book Beat The Dealer, there are certain hands you should “hit” and certain hands you should “stay.”

If you have ever heard the dealer say, “Really?” it is a sign you are not making the correct move. It’s a subtle hint meant to help people who may not know all the ins and outs of the “system.” Ignoring the dealer is done at your own risk (financially), and it’s a sure way to get others at the table upset if things don’t work out (“You should have stayed, you idiot!”). Most people will follow the dealer’s advice.

However, the same people who may listen to that dealer’s ever-so-subtle hint will strike up a heated debate with their CIOs about the functionality or design of a system.

For example:
CIO: “Based upon my experience, I think you should consider this type of design with this functionality.”
Partner: “That may have worked for so-and-so in the past, but that is not what I want. It absolutely must do this.”
CIO: “We can do that, but I want to make sure you consider the impact it will have in these other areas.”
Partner: “I got it. Consider it ‘considered.’ I still want what I want.”


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