I had a great chat with an experienced IT software development leader in IT this afternoon.  He was telling me of a business customer that he had once worked with.  His customer had the habit of coming to IT with not only the problem to be solved, but the entire solution already mapped out.  They didn’t want IT as a partner.  They didn’t want them as a vendor or even a contractor.  They wanted to use IT as a hired lackey.

He began sharing an expression with his business partners to get them to face the consequences of this kind of behavior.

If you come to me with a problem, you’ll get a solution.
If you come to me with a solution, you’ll get a problem.

I love that.  It’s true in so many ways. 

But it speaks volumes about a lack of trust between business and IT.  If our business customers believe that we are experts at what we do, they would want to ask our opinion.  So why do some folks still insist on solving the problem first, without IT in the room?

Perhaps they don’t believe we are experts? 

And if they don’t believe it, just how expert are we?  Doesn’t the core competency of “expertise” include the ability to communicate competence and reassure partners that problems will be solved, value delivered, and integrity maintained? 

So, the next time you find that a business partner comes to you with a solution… thank them.  They have shown you two things: that they have creative ideas, and that they don’t trust you.  Listen to their ideas.  Earn their trust.  (I’m not sure you can successfully do one without the other). 

Then, do what is right for the customer and the enterprise.