emily's rebellion

A business guide to designing better transactional services for the digital age

Enthusiasm shining in your eyes

On the first morning of my new job I stepped into the coffee shop and looked around for Lloyd. Lloyd and I have known each other for my entire life, but this was our first time working together, and my first foray into the big unknown (and slightly daunting) world of data management and business architecture. With a background in stakeholder relations, project management, critical thinking and analysis, I’d always stayed firmly on the content side of the business, and never delved into the deep dark basement where the IT section sat. 

I’d always figured that I didn’t need to understand the magic that went on in there, as long as all my systems performed, I could access the data I needed, and I was equipped to assist my clients effectively. When an opportunity arose to work for Lloyd as a liaison between business and IT on a multimillion-dollar project, I was excited by the opportunity to explore a new side of business and gain a better understanding of what goes on behind the scenes.

I found Lloyd sitting in the sunshine, and was introduced to Graham, who immediately pulled out several diagrams he’d tucked under his elbow, ready to go. Together they began to outline the project’s progress to date, framed by the theory of transaction patterns, and a description of the transactions relevant to this particular business and its customers. In typical fashion, Lloyd wandered into long and unexpected, yet uniquely enlightening and pertinent analogies, while Graham built from the ground up a clear image of the situation in his trademark measured and illustrative manner. 

I was hooked from that morning by Lloyd and Graham’s passion and vision for their work, and the streamlined methodology which they used to follow through on their ideas. With their remarkable ability to communicate complex concepts to me, a business person with limited experience on IT projects (just like the titular Emily), and their enthusiasm literally shining in their eyes, they had me raring to go within minutes.

Since that day, I have sat in countless meetings where well-intentioned and hard-working employees and managers go around and around in circles, trying to move forward inch by inch on large IT projects, without a guiding philosophy to pull their ideas together and give them a path forward. Perhaps they have created a product that only skims the surface of their customers’ needs, or they’re facing complex and far-reaching data challenges, but seem capable of processing only smaller issues like deciding the location of a log in button on a webpage. Perhaps each team within the organization has a different business process, and none of them align with one another, let alone with the ideal customer journey.

In each of these situations and faced with each of these problems I have felt Emily’s need for a rebellion. ‘Surely,’ I have said to myself, ‘there is a better way to create the changes the organization wants, faster and more effectively. Surely, there is a way to ensure organization-wide clear communication, as well to design a business strategy that leads to staff support and engagement, alongside enhanced services. Surely, it is possible to create a methodology that can build upon the knowledge and advances that have already occurred in the industry, while also striking out boldly to overcome existing problems in current methodologies.’ 

In each of these circumstances, Lloyd and Graham have been my daily mentors, guiding me in the direction of real change and business improvement, providing hope, a vision, and most importantly a well-reasoned plan, often while confronted with a group of disillusioned employees and managers who feel lost and despairing aboard a project they don’t know how to save from sinking.

This is the gift that Emily’s Rebellion now offers more broadly to readers everywhere. Here for the first time in writing are the concepts and methods Lloyd and Graham so generously shared with me for all of us to consider, discuss and build upon. This book is a new map of how we can navigate the complex waters of large IT projects and find our way through to the other side with both an effective product and our sanity intact.

The projects that we work on have so much potential, and can affect important changes for our businesses, our clients and our community. Emily’s Rebellion urges us to take the next step – by building on the knowledge developed by skilled IT practitioners and talented business people over the years – to move forward into a new method of creating change and delivering results.

Together Lloyd and Graham have over 50 years of experience working on large IT projects. The range and depth of their experience in the field, their nuanced and sophisticated interpretation of the industry, and their boundless passion and intellect have put them in the unique position of being able to offer us this leap into the future: a leap that supports customer services, improves the business, and importantly, is achievable and repeatable across projects.

And so their book, Emily’s Rebellion, is a book for the Emily in us all – it is a call to arms for everyone who has ever sat in a meeting and thought there must be a better way, or watched an IT and a business person speaking different languages to one another over and over again, or wondered how they can just turn this project around. My hope for Emily’s Rebellion is that it is picked up by all those across the industry who have felt or can imagine feeling the spark of Emily’s rebellion in the air. 

May they find within this book a seed of inspiration, as well as tools to effect the changes for which they’ve been hankering. And finally, may Emily’s Rebellion snowball into a larger revolution, where our industry and IT projects everywhere continue to develop – always discovering and incorporating new ways in which we can move together towards better outcomes and brighter futures.

Deborah Noble (aka Emily)

Business Analyst

Brisbane 2018

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