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Throwback Thursday: The 80/20 Conundrum

Appian Contributor
June 23, 2016

It's an accepted fact...Most IT organizations spend 80% of time and resources maintaining, and only 20% innovating.

In plain English? Most IT teams are in a constant state of upgrades, updates, and troubleshooting (oh my!).

And, with the one constant in IT these days being change, too granular a focus on maintenance results in your organization falling behind, not just in IT, but also everything IT affects. Think Customer Experience...Operational Agility...and even just getting critical work done fast enough.

Way back on November 14, 2014, we published Funtime Fridays or: How I Learned toAvoid Becoming too Focused on Upkeep. It's a quick and entertaining read about why too much attention on keeping things working well leads to an inability to createnewer things that are better.

I hope you enjoy this week's Throwback Thursday: The 80/20 Conundrum.

Zach Messler

Funtime Fridays or: How I Learned toAvoid Becoming too Focused on Upkeep

If your IT organization is like most, it's just like our carpool.

Every morning, I drive my kids to school. They are young 11 and 6 and it has become something to look forward to every day.

Most days, we talk about school-related stuff.

"It's a B' day so I have PE!"

"I used to love Phys. Ed.! What are you going to play?"

"I get my math quiz back today."

"Oh, the one on fractions? How do you think you did?"

The way we all work these days, moments like these are vital. These are the conversations that keep me up to date. They represent a key component in knowing everything is going the way it should go. To the outside world, though, our twenty-minute drive is likely mundane.

That is, except for one day of the week. Except for Friday.

Yes, on Friday, it's different. On Friday, you want to be in our car! On Friday, you never know where the conversation will go!

Last Friday it was music. We talked about the Foo Fighters and why their sound is different from Katy Perry's. We ended up in a spontaneous singing contest, making up the silliest lyrics to the tune of Katy Perry's "Roar!" Yes, we love Funtime Fridays.

And,like I said,if your IT organization is like most, it's just like our carpool.

With all the systems, processes, hardware, and users, it's easy to get laser-focused on keeping things running; making sure everything is operating the way it should be. We all want to be more strategic, more innovative, but at what cost?

"Dad? Why do we only do Funtime Fridays on Friday?"

The concept of the 80:20 IT maintenance: IT innovation spend is nothing new. And, that's the story. It may seem counterintuitive, but if your organization still spends close to 80% of your time and resources to know everything is going the way it should go, you're at risk.

How can you adapt to the latest developments in IT if you are only taking the equivalent of Funtime Fridays to accomplish it? When you're in the constant state of upgrades, updates, and troubleshooting, you just can't adequately address the stirring change that is evolving around us.

"Yeah, Dad. We should do Funtime Friday every day!"

Think about the impact your IT organization could have if everyone could be more strategic. What if the backlog was cleared? What if operations were simplified? What if every day could be Funtime Friday?

Of course, it's never that easy. But today, if you start considering more process automation; if you research what cloud computing truly means today (as opposed to a few years ago); if you can let go and let others handle the day-to-day operational stuff more? You have the ability to transform your organization. You have the chance to make every day your Funtime Friday; make every day your Innovation Day.

I woke up. I realized by focusing 80% of my time making sure the status quo was working, I was missing out on what could be an even more rewarding experience for me and my customers in this case my kids. In our car, now every day is Funtime Friday. Oh sure, I still get my download on school. But our focus is always on exploring new things, creating fun experiences, and opening our minds.

Zach Messler


'SNORE' By The Funtime Friday Carpool Crew

(Sung to the tune of Katy Perry's 'ROAR')

I used to go to bed and stay awake

I wish I could just go and fall asleep.

But I lay quietly, I sat so silently.

I guess that I forgot to just relax

I let my thoughts get me all outta whack

I just kept up my guard, sleeping it was so hard.


I tossed and turned, and I got up (HEY!)

My goodness I have had enough!

I drank warm milk, I lay back down.

This bed is softer than the ground

I tossed and turned, and I got up (HEY!)

All ready to go back to schluff

I see it all, I feel it now


The Funtime Friday Crew