I just did my first video interview about what BestBuy.com is trying to build and how we are trying to build it. It was fun but I came out of it thinking about the overall strategy Best Buy has applied toward technology for the last 10 years. In a nutshell, and this is certainly not new information, Best Buy has decided that thinking is the most important part of technology strategy. Therefore, we only staff managers who think about business problems, and farm out the doing to the cheapest vendor we can find. If you ever try to do anything technology related at Best Buy, you have to have a big IT vendor do it for you.
The problem with this attitude is that no value is placed on the technical solution. When technology is driving the base strategies of so many eCommerce companies, it is hard to understand why we don’t place value on technology. Last year alone we taught a number of our vendors how to build elastic systems in the Cloud. When our projects were over, all those people we taught went off and built elastic systems in Clouds for other companies, likely our competitors as well.
Not only Think. Not only Do. Think and Do.
If you only staff Think you are reliant on someone else to Do. You are giving away you’re strategies and technologies. Most importantly, you’re giving away your minds that have learned new technologies and new strategies.
If you only staff Do you may pursue interesting technological pursuits, but their business value may be suspect. From a tech person standpoint, just staffing Do is very seductive. I’ve been on plenty of teams where the implementing team knew the business requirements better than the business.
Think and Do. Tech and business teams highly coupled and dependent on each other can produce amazing results. One of my favorite projects was with a highly engaged business customer who took a high functioning Agile team in directions we never would have expected. The results were superior to anything the tech team could imagine.
But the best of the best comes from Think, Do, and let the Doers think too. This is the core of the Agile process where decisions are distributed to the people that know the system best.
Think, Do, and let the Doers think too.