Chris ConwayChris Conway
Chief Architect, Quantiv

Last month’s blog about reimagining IT systems started out with a slightly different introduction from the version eventually published.

Instead of focusing on the central point, I got sidetracked by explaining what triggered my idea in the first place (perhaps like I’m doing now with this article).

This thought process was interesting to me but not central to the topic, as a colleague gently pointed out.

‘Kill’ your darlings

But even though I could see the need for the change, I was still slightly disappointed at having to let go of my initial inspiration. When I said this, my colleague mentioned this was an example of the old writer’s adage: ‘kill your darlings’.

I’d not heard the description before but once she explained it, the concept seemed all too familiar. In effect, a thing can feel essential because it’s been around forever, but when looked at anew could actually prove to be a barrier to other changes.

I’ve had experience of this in other areas:

  • That part of a design that took so long to create that it feels a waste to abandon it (although, as the architect Matthew Frederick says, “A good designer isn’t afraid to throw away a good idea”).
  • That neat section of program code that’s so brilliant there just has to be a need for it.
  • That old piece of furniture that still dominates a room despite its need having long since passed.

When this happens, changes can sometimes be made relatively easily and then restored if they don’t work out, so:

  • Writers can adjust characters, see how the revised version reads and then revert if needed.
  • Designers and programmers can take backups before making changes, and restore if the changes aren’t working out.
  • And even room designers can reinstate old furniture (provided they haven’t been sold on!).

It’s also possible to use tools to help with those changes:

  • A writer can use a storyboard to show the overall flow of a plot and its characters and how any change might affect them.
  • Designers and programmers can use tools to keep track of the changes they make, the differences between them and the overall flow of their work.
  • Interior designers can use simulation packages to provide images of the results of their changes.

Organisational ‘darlings’

Organisations can have these characteristics too:

  • Processes that have been performed for so long they almost feel as if they’re part of the organisation’s DNA.
  • A report that feels as if it’s the only measure of operational success.
  • Or even a building that seems as if it is the organisation.

But organisational changes can be much more significant:

  • Before they’re made, their effects can be harder to predict.
  • Once made, it can be difficult to judge whether they really do represent improvements.
  • And changes can also be riskier, because something that’s worked for years can suddenly fail to work, while, conversely, there’s a risk of falsely blaming a change for later failures.

Predicting the effects: organisational change tools

Organisational changes – and their effects – can also take much more tangible forms. They don’t just happen on paper or on a screen but can require physical and economic changes too. Changes of that sort are much harder to reverse. Plus, they can often seem more difficult to control.

But here, too, there are ways both to predict the effect of any changes and to monitor them once made.

A good organisational model will define both current operations and the resources used. And this allows dispassionate decisions to be made as to which ‘darlings’ are essential, and which might be superfluous.

Moreover, once the altered processes are included, the model makes it possible to show the effects those changes will have on operational performance.

Quantiv’s NumberWorks method provides a way to create just such an organisational model, while its NumberCloud platform supports the collection and reporting of metrics that show how current and changed models operate in practice.

So, while ‘killing’ your operational darlings may seem like a brave step, it doesn’t have to be one taken without the information to decide whether they should be resurrected or quietly left in peace.

Find out more…

To learn more about NumberWorks and NumberCloud, talk to our team on 0161 927 4000 or email: