“… Hi, this is John’s voicemail. I am currently unavailable. You see, we have our annual strategy session with all of the IT management and the leaders of the business units. And it seemed perfect timing to make a change this year. Think about it: IT strategy is more crucial than ever. The wolves are howling in the deserted, grey streets of the economy and we are in desperate need of creative ideas. And not only about how to save money on the IT department. We are also looking for fresh, new ways to use technology to tackle the downturn and find a path forward.
Oh, by the way, this year we are not in that luxurious neo renaissance chateau. Instead we are in this nice little motel. Very convenient, just near the motorway and all.
Anyway, IT strategy. If it is so crucial to the success of our company, why are we so careless about it? Last year, it was difficult enough to get all of the major stakeholders together for one lousy day at the chateau. Well, nearly all of them, that is. Even when I was on my way, I received a hurried cancellation. Something about an emergency client tender, although I have never heard anything about that one ever since. The rest of the attendees sort of trickled into the room during the course of the morning and actually it was already 11 AM when we were really up to speed. Just before lunch, actually (they served an excellent Californian Chardonnay, come to think of it).

So, only a few days before I had realised that some preparation might have been nice. And to admit it frankly, the supporting documentation was just hastily thrown together. Rubbish, really.
Not that it mattered. Not a single soul had gone through it. So we ended up explaining and discussing the basic arguments at least three times again. And when we finally had our session, nobody seemed to be connected. Some of the attendees where shamelessly checking email on their laptops. Others choose to use the Blackberry, hidden under the table. When one of my colleges ran out of the room for the fourth time in a row, nervously answering an incoming phone call, something just broke me.
That’s why we are doing our IT strategy planning a bit different this year. We are incommunicado for a full three days and we all left our phones at home. Also, we won’t be using a laptop to make minutes. Just to make sure.
By all means , leave a message after the beep. I may call you back. In a week or two…”.
First published as part of my ‘Slow IT’ series on SlowPlanet