I hear a lot about the failures on the path to success. Lately, I’ve been hypothesizing that the reverse is also true. So how can success be a milestone on the path to failure? More importantly why do I believe that to be the case so others may avoid it? Specifically, what I see in some businesses (and big government) is a way of thinking and conducting operations that is in alignment with what worked in the past and isn’t necessarily the best way to move forward.
I’m not advocating that our values should change, that we shouldn’t focus on customer service, or that our core product should change. Not learning from the past and not carrying experiences forward would most certainly be a mistake. What I am advocating is knowing what technology is available that will create efficiency and lead to better experiences for consumers of whatever product is being offered.
One thing that I find refreshing is the agility of small businesses. It truly seems like innovation happens in these environments even though funding may be significantly less than their enterprise counterparts. We regularly hear of a few technicians leaving one of the large technology vendors, building a startup company and creating a truly innovative product. As is often the case, the startup then gets purchased and absorbed by one of the industry giants.
The same group of individuals would have struggled to create their product inside the giant corporate setting that they are now part of. Even if they could’ve created their product, it would have most likely taken much longer and been influenced by other (likely non-technical) factors.
If we think about other things, we can see where other areas of success has stifled forward movement. For example, the US has many geographic areas that lack adequate cell phone coverage. However, there are less affluent parts of the world that have coverage in places our citizens wouldn’t expect.
The US succeeded in delivering ubiquitous analog telephony, so the more convenient cellular service wasn’t as aggressively deployed. Something similar is true with the antiquated magnetic credit card system in the US. Although, the EMV (chip and pin) standard is more robust against against security breaches like we saw recently with Target, the cost of replacing a ubiquitous [large and successful] install base of credit card terminals is holding the industry back from a better solution.
Looking only toward the past or only toward the future is a mistake. It is important that we combine the failures and struggles of the past, where we are today, and how we visualize the future. Efficiencies gained through the appropriate use of technologies and tools can improve our careers, our product offerings and our customers’ experiences. I have a firm belief that the success of businesses and organizations will be the result of appropriately leverage the technology at its disposal. Proper use of available technology creates agility and can most certainly be a differentiator for any entity.
As I write this article, I have to think about a book called The Phoenix Project. This book is a really good read about DevOps and the problems of an IT organization.
Disclaimer: I have nothing to disclaim about this article. The thoughts are mine and the links to the Target Breach and The Phoenix Project are NOT affiliate links and result in no compensation.