Don’t Do Everything

Do some things at lower quality on purpose – Here’s another way to look at things outside of the critical priorities. Consider not trying to do everything at the same level of top quality. This frees up loads of time and ensures more focus on the top few things.

This is an important topic in an IT organization where technical elegance often wins out over speed. Sometimes this is good, for example, if you are building an architecture to do things more efficiently in the future, but sometimes it serves no real purpose, and takes up a lot of time.

It helps to make time/cost budgets a natural way of working, and to develop an understanding of where and when to apply “good enough” thinking throughout the organization. Get your whole organization aligned on the Ruthless Priorities, and make it clear where technical elegance and top quality is necessary and valuable, and where it is not.

Clear the IT Backlog once in awhile – When people make IT requests and they hear there is a two year backlog, that does not help the business, nor your credibility. Instead, think of resetting the backlog based on business priorities. Make sure you are always addressing the most important things vs. just dealing with a growing backlog of requests which may not remain as business critical over time. Another way to do this is to put a cap on the backlog at six months, and when it goes over, it’s time to re-assess business initiatives, and set Ruthless Priorities again.


There are many aspects of aligning IT with the business. Keeping focus on priorities is one of the benefits. If you are clear about how your IT focus is supporting key business priorities you will get support to do a few things really well. You will give yourself a chance to perform at a level of excellence not possible if you were trying to do everything.

Patty Azzarello became the youngest general manager ever at HP at the age of 33. She ran HP’s $1B OpenView software business at the age of 35, and was the CEO of an IT software company, Euclid Software at the age of 38. She has been working with IT executives to build their careers and put their IT strategies into action for many years. Today Patty Azzarello is the CEO of Azzarello Group,