What can IT management learn from Parkour?
What? You have not heard of Parkour? It is a free running style sport that you can see in action on YouTube (youtu.be/WEeqHj3Nj2c). Also, check out the Parkour episode on Fight Science (youtu.be/RBNaiNnNRfU). A short summary is Parkour devotees create an awareness and nimbleness that allows quick fluid movements over uneven urban terrain.
Parkour has three takeaways that can be applied to leading an IT team:
- There are no obstacles, only objects used to achieve an objective
- Decrease shocks and distribute forces
- Conserve energy and release it at the right time
There are no obstacles, only objects used to achieve an objective. A friend of mine who practices Parkour talks about raising an understanding about environment, and transitioning from seeing only obstacles to seeing only opportunities. I like that approach. The transition begins by pausing after anything happens and asking, how can this further our objective, build our brand, improve our services?
Decrease shocks and distribute forces. It is fair to say that not everything that happens to an IT team or on an IT infrastructure is positive. So what do you do then? In the Fight Science clip, Ryan Doyle jumps fourteen feet and then lands in such a way that he dissipates the force. The resulting impact on Doyle’s body is “similar to what a normal person feels doing jumping jacks.” IT teams can and should build systems and processes that are likewise capable of dissipating political and technical impacts.
Conserve energy and release it at the right time. Parkour experts can leap across several lanes of traffic. IT leaders can fund, execute, and secure large scale IT projects. The commonality? Both build energy, save it, and release it at just the right moment. Of course, in IT, that energy is measured by political capital, brag bags, team’s skill sets, potential cost saving ideas, and so on. The trick is knowing when and how to use this energy.
Sure, we may not look as impressive when carrying out an IT project as Ryan Doyle or Daniel Ilabaca. Still, I see a lot of Parkour in the IT leaders that I know. It is the CISO who rolls the right during an outage, thus dissipating the forces on the organization and the security team. It is the guy who leverages an outage to build a business continuity program. It is the manager who cuts the budget at just the right time to obtain funding for a new business critical initiative. I see it all the time. Applying these three simple lessons improves IT.