The Times They Are a Changin’
Bob Dylan released “The Times They Are a Changin” in 1964. He made a great point back then and it’s even more true now. The frequency of change in business is staggering.
Major disruptors are popping up in every industry more and more often. The Superpowers of yesteryear have to continually change to keep up with the “new kids on the block”(and I’m not talking about NKOTB, who are not new).
Decades ago, when information technology was being introduced to business, business leaders went to their technology executives as a cost center to fix business problems. Now, technology groups are showing the business the problems and giving them the solutions. Most capital projects are centered around technology, if not wholly housed in technology. The old bureaucrat model of business telling technology what to do is becoming archaic. Now more than ever technology and business groups need to collaborate to deal with the ever-changing business world that surrounds us.
The “Newer Generation” of organizations are collaborating better and they are taking market share by working differently. Companies that have spun up in the last 10 years have a different cadence than their predecessors. Most have a different culture all together. Everyone can envision a grandparent getting help with a piece of technology from a child these days. Imagine little Wesley at age 5 showing Grandpa Bill how to use an Ipad to watch the game. Businesses aren’t far off. Companies that are operating in the old bureaucrat model need to pay attention to these new ways of conducting business or that are eventually going to fall behind.
The fact of the matter is that companies are trying to become more change capable, dare I use the “A” word (Agile). The word Agile, is all the rage these days. Unfortunately, Agile (simply, the ability to move quickly and easily) has taken on a new meaning, in the new business world. Companies are going through “Agile Transformations”, but what they are really referring to is a software development methodology. Almost all are starting these transformations in their technology groups. And almost all stop there. The “Agile Transformation” in a true sense never really happens.
Any major change that is truly transformational has to happen in the roots of a company; in its culture. In its people. It shouldn’t start with your technology group, it should start with your Leadership. It will be complete, with a shift to highly engaged and productive employees that have autonomy to do their jobs well. They should have left and right boundaries, but the ability to self-improve at all times. I am going to pull from the Agile Manifesto. Agile is all about Individuals and Interactions, Customer Collaboration, and Responding to Change (and yes, for all you techies Working Software).
Agile isn’t a technology change, it’s a cultural shift for your entire organization.