In One Sentence
Harwell Thrasher explains the unexplainable — IT, business and more.
Harwell Thrasher is the author of the book, Boiling the IT Frog: How to Make Your Business Information Technology Wildly Successful Without Having to Learn Anything Technical. He has spent over 35 years leading IT organizations: as a developer of information systems, as a manager of software development groups, and as a technology vice-president. His experience includes due diligence for over twenty acquisitions. He’s made a lot of mistakes and gained a lot of insight. Now he uses that insight to help others avoid making the same mistakes.
Harwell Thrasher is an author, commentator, strategist and former IT executive who focuses on the human side of Information Technology (which is where things usually go wrong), helps businesses to better understand and communicate with their technology organizations, and helps IT people better align their work to business needs. Harwell founded MakingITclear, Inc. in 2002 after more than thirty years of previous experience in Information Technology.
Harwell is known for providing a unique perspective on the difficult problems confronting IT and business organizations. He often explains complicated issues using simple metaphors and parables. His non-technical explanations of technology make it easily apparent that IT is no different from any other organization staffed by humans – it just uses more expensive tools.
The word “magic” comes up a lot in Harwell’s writing and speaking. He cites magic – an unreasonable expectation of illogical results – as the prime source of miscommunication between business and IT. Indeed, sometimes Harwell’s purpose in life seems to be to destroy the inappropriate magic that leads to IT misperception and failure. By eliminating the magic, Harwell hopes to raise the overall reputation of IT people. (Read a book excerpt on magic.)
Currently, many IT organizations are perceived as kind of like that sleazy car repair place by the side of the highway that you have to go to because your car breaks down right beside it. You don’t really want to use their services, but you feel like you’ve got no choice. You know you’ll probably be overcharged – maybe even cheated – and you just want to get your car fixed and get out of there.
Harwell’s hope is that he can turn this attitude around, clean up the sleazy IT “garages,” and turn IT into a respected partner for business – a partner who works side by side with the CEO and senior business executives to make dramatic improvements in the processes used by the business, and makes business systems easy to use and even fun.
Harwell has been writing and publishing a monthly email newsletter for CIO’s since April, 2003, and that newsletter has now evolved into a blog. In 2007 Harwell published his first book, Boiling the IT Frog: How to Make Your Business Information Technology Wildly Successful Without Having to Learn Anything Technical, which explains IT issues to a business audience, and gives business people advice on how to improve the effectiveness of their IT organizations.
Harwell is also a popular speaker for gatherings of current and future IT executives, and for groups of people who work closely with IT. He is able to describe the IT life experience with humor and from a fresh perspective, and the resulting insight helps the audience better cope with their situation at work.
Previous Experience before MakingITclear, Inc.
As Vice-President of Technology Architecture & Strategy at Ceridian Corporation, Harwell performed technology due diligence for over twenty prospective Ceridian acquisitions in the U.S., Canada, the U.K., and Switzerland, and helped the acquired companies integrate their IT strategy with the strategy of the parent company. Harwell’s experience at Ceridian included a number of business process reengineering efforts. He led a major effort to automate a financial services business, and he led the creation of Ceridian’s first Internet payroll product.
Prior to Ceridian, Harwell worked for Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC), where he developed and managed MRP (Material Requirements Planning) systems for DEC’s 29 manufacturing plants around the world.
A graduate of M.I.T.’s Sloan School of Management, Harwell is an Atlanta native.
Disclosures and Relationships
- I founded MakingITclear, Inc. in 2002, and I am its CEO, President, Secretary and Treasurer.
- I am a former employee of Ceridian Corporation and I still do occasional consulting and writing work for that company
- I published my book, Boiling the IT Frog, through BookSurge, LLC. BookSurge is a brand of On-Demand Publishing LLC, a subsidiary of Amazon.com Inc.
- I receive royalties for the sale of my book.
- I am a member of Amazon Associates, use Amazon Associate links from my web site to books and products on Amazon.com, and receive a small commission on each item sold as the result of those links
- This web site uses Google Adsense for ads. Ads are selected by Google’s algorithms for relevance; I have no control over this. Unfortunately, Google’s algorithm doesn’t understand metaphor, and so you’ll often see very odd ads on the web site which don’t seem to match the topic.
- Google search is used on the web site. The search results page also includes Google ads picked by Google for relevance. Google seems to do a better job on relevance on the search results page.
- I receive requests for speaking and consulting as a result of my web site. I receive fees and expenses for these services.
- I sometimes teach an IT Strategy class for Omicron in Atlanta, and I receive a fee for teaching. I also do occasional “Interchange” sessions for Omicron.
- I sell white papers through my web site, and I receive the revenue from those sales.
- My “store” at CafePress sells clothing and merchandise with images I’ve developed. I receive royalties from those sales.
- If I recommend a product or service, it’s because I find it personally valuable. To date I have received no compensation from vendors, nor have I received any free merchandise or services. I’ll let you know if that changes.
- I am a member of SIM (Society for Information Management) Atlanta and SIM International. I’m a former board member of SIM Atlanta.
- I was a member of APICS (American Production and Inventory Control Society) for many years (80′s and 90′s). I achieved CFPIM certification (Certified in Production and Inventory Management at the Fellow Level), and I was a member of the PAC (Production Activity Control) Subcommittee of the APICS Curriculum and Certification Council. That’s the group that develops the test questions for APICS certification.
- When I like where a technology company is going, and when the stock is available at a good price, I buy the stock. My mention or recommendation of a company’s products on the web site is not caused by my stock ownership — it’s more the reverse: if I like a company’s products then I buy the stock. Currently I own shares in these technology companies: Adobe, Amazon, Apple, Canon, Cisco, Powerwave, Research in Motion, Salesforce.com, Seagate, and Verizon. I don’t own very much of any of these stocks, and in many cases I’ve owned the stock for years. Some of these investments have turned out to be dogs, but others have done well. This is in no way an endorsement of any of these companies, nor is it a recommendation to buy. I don’t give investment advice.