The Last Obstacle
June 2000

Like a runner in a marathon, a company that wants to rid itself of its legacy Windows platforms must overcome many obstacles. The main obstacles in both cases are not the competition, but rather the enemies within.

The first obstacle that any athlete faces is *lack of preparation*. Without determined, long-term planning, no serious endeavor can succeed. The company wishing to break free of the limitations of the obsolete Windows era must PLAN to do so. They will not succeed in eliminating the Windows ball-and-chain by simply waiting for others to cut them loose, any more than the marathoner can expect to finish the race by just "skating". The runner cannot depend on the pushing and nudging of the mass of competitors to carry them along toward the goal. Success depends on making up your mind long before the big day comes, and exerting yourself toward the goal through rigorous practice and training.

A company must set concrete goals -- percentage of desktops, percentage of servers, numbers of support personnel to be retrained, departments or technical areas of specialty to be migrated first -- and schedule the permanent removal of Windows and replacement with serious platforms. Similarly, the athlete must determine in advance a proper training diet and maintain strict control over the intake of dietary "junk food" in order to remove the excess flab. There's nothing flabbier than Windows, and nothing as corrosive in its effects on a company's information infrastructure, either. Windows is to IT what Twinkies are to an athlete. Cut the flab -- stop buying Windows products, and instead bulk up on smart food.

Another obstacle a company must overcome is inertia, or lack of initiative to chart a new course. Once they fall into a sluggish pace, the lazy athlete and the lazy company will both lose the survival instinct necessary to fight off the fatiguing effects of peer pressure, advertising malarkey, and plain old apathy. In a race to win, the athlete must fight off the urge to lope casually along. Similarly, the company that wants to succeed must not fall asleep at the wheel and let Microsoft dictate the pace of obsolescence through its artificially short-lived products.

The last obstacle on the course is the hardest to overcome. This is the obstacle of ego. A runner in a race may believe they have it all sewed up, and therefore fail to give full effort. Or, the runner may lose hope and decide to quit the race when the going gets tough. Similarly, a company is often inhabited by egotistical know-it-alls who need the constant psychological stroking that Microsoft provides -- constantly providing false confirmation that they made the so-called "right choice" and that they are on the right course by their wimpy knuckling under to the pace of the mediocre mainstream. Or, the company may realize that the challenge of totally rooting out dead-end Microsoft platforms was harder than they had first anticipated, and they may give up and lapse back into mindless conformity, drifting along in the hazy fog of the technological stragglers at Microsoft.

Remember to attack the enemy within through preparation, determination, goal-setting, and an unshakeable mindset of excellence at all costs. Microsoft and mediocrity can be defeated, but only by those who are firmly determined to go the entire distance and pay the full price that greatness requires.

Most recent revision: June 1, 2000
Copyright © 2000, Tom Nadeau
All Rights Reserved.