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Letters to a Young Manager

The Truck, #296
LTYM > Mission and Vision

Dear Adam,
Here's a story I told as part of my chairman's address at the NetHope Summit in Geneva. It's a metaphor to remind those of us who are technology leaders about what we are doing and the value of pragmatic solutions.

The Case of the Tractor Trailer

There are a number of bridges in Connecticut, where I live, where the clearance is too low for full-sized trucks to pass beneath. This is especially true for the roads that cross under the commuter train tracks that run through the Fairfield Country towns along the coast. I found this out recently when I moved. The driver of the moving van pulled out his maps and asked me about alternate routes, pointing to the roads he needed to avoid. We figured it out.

Sometimes a tractor-trailer driver is trying to beat a red light, driving fast; when he hits the bridge, the entire top of the truck is peeled back like a can of sardines. Another driver got wedged underneath a bridge and was unable to move. The police and highway department were quickly on the scene. They talked about dissembling the truck, using a very large tow truck to pull the truck out, cutting into the bridge girders, and cutting the top of the truck off. The debate was lively, and none of the solutions looked quick or easy. In the middle of all this a young boy wandered up to the group of highway workers who were huddled over some drawings of the plans being considered, and tugged on one of their sleeves.

Truck gets stuck under Lindsay Street bridge [1]

“Hey mister,” he said. “I know how to get the truck out.” At first they ignored him, but little boys can sometimes be persistent.
“Hey mister,” he shouted. “I know the answer.”
“What?” said the senior official in exasperation.
“I know how to get the truck unstuck.”
“Just let the air out of the tires.”

A simple solution. Practical. Brilliant.

I like this story. It's about simple solutions. It's also about listening to the younger generation. And it's about humility. Will we be open enough to accept solutions from outside our corporate walls, for outside realms of expertise?

So the moral of the story? The truck is our programs that move our missions forward. Our #1 goal as nonprofit IT people is to get the trucks to their destinations, to move our missions forward. Will we be able to state how each of our projects contributes to the mission of our organizations. And our challenge: will we be more like the highway officials or the child?




Our #1 goal as nonprofit IT people is to move our missions forward

Discussion Questions:

1) Can you state how each of your projects contributes to the mission of your organization?
2) Do you have projects that impact your customers or constituents directly?
3) What are some situations where your organizations has been more like the highway officials than the child?

For Further Reading:

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