Nobody cares about your messy legacy environment

The most impactful directional shift I see successful companies make is they prioritize the right activities with their scarce resources.  They understand how they need to serve their customers, partners, and employees with technologies that align to their needs.  They also make choices to direct resources to those appropriate priorities and less toward others that although valuable, are less important to the business.  The less effective companies do the opposite.  They direct resources toward where niche needs are and miss the transformative moments in the business, only progressing until the are made to. 

I was recently on a series of calls with different companies talking about their legacy environments.  These legacy environments were messy.  They ranged from development framework, Active Directory, to SCCM, to network configuration, and so on.  The teams accountable for those systems were understandably wanting to improve the environment and believed strongly in an effort to right size them.  I don’t disagree that they were in messy conditions or that incremental improvement would be helpful, but I strongly disagreed that it should be the priority.  In most cases the company was putting these cleanup efforts in front of a strong movement to modern technologies.  My response is, “the business doesn’t care how messy your legacy environment is… they care if they are getting value and can better serve their customers, partners, and employees”.  The legacy environment was being used as an unnecessary blocker to progress… it shouldn’t be. 

My suggestion is to follow this framework:

  • Understand the needs of the business.  How can technology serve the business to execute better?
  • Decide on the technology direction.  What is the forward architecture?
  • Lay out the barriers to eliminate.  What are the barriers to achieving the technology direction?
  • Clean out the “nice to haves” from the barriers.  Stay focused on what is really necessary.
  • Focus on the forward direction and a clear plan to achieve it.

Do not let preventable barriers block you from success.  The cleanup of existing environments might *feel* important, but it is a “nice to have” to achieve a destination environment.  If you hear this… BUST THROUGH IT… keep going toward your direction.  Re-focus the conversation on what success really looks like and what the business is asking for.  Cast away the fear. I’m replacing a bridge… is the old one going to fall down? If so, fix it. If not, let’s focus on replacing the bridge.

I recently did a presentation that included content on Growth Mindset, which is a mentality about intentionality toward personal transformation.  This same mindset applies here, both to the person and the company.  Choose to disrupt your current situation and focus on how you achieve the future state, not how you maintain the existing broken scenario in a slightly cleaner state.

If you are sitting there thinking… “wait, he doesn’t understand this about our environment”… I say, “bla, bla, bla”.  Let’s do it… transcend politics, technology boundaries, and legacy and align to your true goals as an organization.  We owe this to ourselves.

Nathan Lasnoski

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