IT Process Re-engineering: Mozart was the earliest recorded IT Business Process Engineer

Setting the stage:  we go back to the early 1800’s..  Antonio Salieri was a renowned Italian Composer and Conductor.

As the Austrian imperial Kapellmeister from 1788 to 1824, he was responsible for music at the court chapel and attached school. He was one of the most important and sought after teachers of his generation and his influence was felt in every aspect of Vienna’s musical life. Franz Schubert, Ludwig van Beethoven and Franz Liszt were among the most famous of his pupils.

When Antonio Salieri is notified that the prodigy Mozart would visit Emperor Joseph II of Austria (Salieri’s Boss), Salieri composes a short piece in honor of Mozart’s arrival.

Salieri proudly plays this piece for Mozart and then Mozart begins his ‘re-engineering’ of the piece… from memory… not seeing the score itself…. hearing it only once just before sitting down at the harpsichord.

For those of you that own the DVD of the 1984 movie ‘Amadeus’ directed by Milos Forman – pull it out and watch it – it is fabulous.  In fact, F. Murray Abraham’s acclaimed performance of Salieri in the film earned him an Academy Award for Best Actor. If you don’t have the full 2+ hours, just fast forward to Scene 8 (about 30 minutes in), as Mozart arrives to visit the Emperor and Salieri plays the piece.

As you see, Mozart was the one of the first business process re-engineering experts of his time.  To me, his approach can be summed up in the three questions he asks during his ‘re-engineering’… which are very applicable today.

First…’That doesn’t really work… Did you try?…’

IT organizations cannot just enforce or lead Business Process reengineering themselves… a partnership with the business is a key step.  It begins by identifying and aligning with the business that ‘a process is broken, lets fix it’.  Early stages explore whiteboarding, brainstorming and a wide range of options to try.  Just as Mozart did.

Second… ‘Shouldn’t it be a bit more?…’ 

I liken this to a gentle prodding of IT towards a specific outcome.  It is fine for IT to ‘begin with the end in mind’ – but success is when a business organization TOGETHER with IT come to the same conclusions and agreements.  At this point, VP and department heads of the business play a key role – that is to actively participate in the process re-engineering.  Mozart deftly does this by this question… which you as a CIO can use as well.

Finally… ‘What do you think…?’

Mozart actively solicited input on the new design… just as IT should always be sure to confirm that a design meets the goals of the business and was streamlined and effective.  IT Technology should always be viewed as complementary – assisting and enhancing the overall whole (the specific notes Mozart revised and added to the original piece took it from ‘mundane’ to ‘memorable’ in real time). 

IT leaders who constantly ask this question, not just of their IT organization but of the business, will be much more successful than those who do not actively solicit this feedback.

Finally, the key step – ‘What do you think…?’ is embodied by obtaining Business sign-off – signatures of the VP or department of the business – on the re-engineered process.  This step is often forgotten, but it drives home an important ‘buy-in’ for IT: the business has ‘signed off’ on the new process.

Next Week: How should a CIO spend his or her time (verses where CIOs actually spend their time)

Today’s International Travel Tip:

When arriving at Dulles airport on an international flight on United, and NOT immediately connecting to another flight, staff will direct you to a ‘mobile lounge’ assigned for the flight you have arrived on.  However, just before boarding the mobile lounge, check the other mobile lounges docked nearby.  Often, a different mobile lounge is almost full and ready to leave, which saves time waiting for your assigned mobile lounge to fill and depart.  All mobile lounges head to the same place: the international arrivals building at Dulles.  Time Savings: 15-20 minutes on average for each return to the USA.

Wrapping Up:

Hopefully you’ll find this blog interesting and will pass on the link to your friends and networks.  Please … subscribe, send me feedback, and check back next week for the next installment.   If nothing else, I promise the International Travel tips will be extremely useful!

About the Author: Laddie Suk

Laddie leads a cross-functional Dell Technologies Consulting team focused on digital transformation and industry solutions. He is a seasoned industry veteran with deep experience across multiple industries, solutions, and technologies. As a former Verizon Network CIO and Network Executive at AT&T and Bell Labs, he has extensive hands-on experience in leading strategic network and IT development projects and managing communication service provider environments. He has also led strategic and tactical engagements in network transformation, IT transformation, and business process and performance improvement for clients throughout the Americas.