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The farmers' market: How to disrupt your company

Ian Apperley, Guest post. 19 July 2016, 8:19 am
The farmers' market: How to disrupt your company

Everything you know is changing: How to disrupt your Company

We have to change the way that we run our companies and our government agencies if we want to remain relevant in the 21st Century. It sounds so simple, however we don't like change when it gets right down to it and the corporate machine has an engrained immune system that will fight to the death. 

As part of my continuing series I want to look at companies and government agencies. For the sake of word count, let's just call them organisations. These are my observations of organisations that are successful and surviving this wave of global technology change. 

One of the best things you can do with an organisation is to federate it. I'm going to use Datacom New Zealand as an example of this. I see Datacom as the "farmer's market" of IT in New Zealand. Each business unit has autonomy, profit and loss, and the ability to do as they need to do to achieve results. 

That federation sponsors innovation and some competition as well as sharing of resources and ideas. If part of the federation gets into trouble, it can be simply excised without impacting the overall group. Federation then is modularising your functions, products, and services in a way that allows you to add, delete, change, and pivot quickly. 

We need to stop following the rule books to the letter. We need to de-process. While ITIL, standards, security lists, PMP, MSP, and other methodologies are necessary, following them to the letter will kill you. It's rather like taking the bible as the literal "word of god" versus a series of stories, anecdotes, and learnings. Enjoy that thought. 

Form a research and intelligence group. It doesn't have to be a paid-for FTE, it just has to be some brains that want to understand what comes next. Better yet, task that group with destroying your organisation. Yes, you heard me correctly. 

Set a group of people to create a strategy on how to destroy your organisation. Get them to tell you all the ways in which the organisation could be killed. It gives you a beautiful insight into your risk, your vulnerabilities, your weaknesses, and pitfalls. Take that information and build your defences appropriately. 

Ensure that you introduce diversity. I can't stress this enough. I am not an academic and I do not understand the dynamics of how all this works I just know that it does. If you are running an entire Dev Ops teams of males, make sure you hire females to balance it up. As well as that hire people of different ages, nationalities, and immigrants. It. Just. Works. Trust me. Diversity breeds strength, maturity, and innovation. 

Consider the Leed's Street Model. In Wellington Leeds Street has a small cluster of different organisations that support each other. A chocolate factory, bakery, craft beer bar, pizzeria, and café. When you sit in the craft beer bar (yeah, you got me), you can order pizza, coffee, or whatever you want from the bar, and they get it from the other shops. 

Collaborating with other organisations and playing to each other's strengths and weaknesses makes you all stronger. It's the federated model, that farmers' market, across organisations as opposed to just within. Share, share, share, and share some more. 

Worry less about skills sets and worry more about attitude and aptitude. The change is so rapid today that skills sets can be born and die within months. Attitude and aptitude is king. 

Finally. Breathe. I see so many organisations crash because the owners do not stop, breathe, revitalise, and reinvigorate. It allows time for you and new ideas. 

Ian Apperley is well known to many in the ICT industry as both participant and commentator and craft beer apologist. He blogs on all matters IT related at WhatIsITWellington.


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