September 11, 2013

Technology and Corporate Culture

Virtualization is a very hot topic right now - it is the current disruptive technology. It changes business processes and existing workflows. With all disruptive technology (laptops, smartphones, tablets, etc.) there are two parts to any 'change' - the technology itself and the corporate culture that must adapt to the new technology.

It is my premise that changing  corporate culture is far more difficult than the technology change itself.

Let me relay a story from long ago (technology-wise): Please note this technology is almost obsolete now, so if you want, replace fax with any other technology - it all plays the same:

Prior to fax machines, construction bids were either phoned in or mailed. You could imagine as bid time approached, the phone started to ring, and scribbling on 'bid sheets' was rampant, and communication mistakes were made. Then the moment of panic happened - "we didn't get a phone call from ABC Company about XYZ material and/or labor". Bids were 'guessed' at, with the hope that all would work out in the end.

Then magically, fax technology became price competitive and construction companies started acquiring fax machines. The speed of getting bids out and bids back increased dramatically. Also contractors could send out a portion of the plan and get a very quick turn-around, in writing. This led to less errors and more accurate bidding.

I am sure you believe the technology improvement happened without a hiccup.  Nope. The hand wringing by firms, the 'we will never use a fax', and the 'legal risk adverse' all came out in force hyping that the world will end, lawsuits will sky-rocket, etc. etc. In the end, none of the 'world will end' came true.

My point is that all new technology is evolutionary and not really revolutionary. The new technology's value proposition is/was simply faster or better.  

This is the same about virtualization. The nay-sayers all claim that they "will never use cloud computing", claim proprietary information, and the risk is too great (see the similarity to my story above).

Here is my take on evaluating new technology:
  • Will the new technology increase your company's value proposition (faster, better, stronger).  If yes - then you must move forward.
  • Should you test out technology before jumping into the deep end of that technology.  Absolutely, there are always companies that will assist in paving the way for you. Get training in the new technology increase adoption and usage.
  • Will all of your company/team/staff survive the technology.  Probably not, but that is not a bad thing.  Your goal should always be faster, better, stronger.  Remove roadblocks, and give the team a path to success.  If that does not work, it is probably time to have that team member move on to another job.
  • Lastly, remember, the first usage of the technology usually does not return the best return on investment (ROI).  Look past the bumps in the road and look at the longer horizon.  
Business leaders must shut out the negative noise to embrace all technologies that increase their value proposition.

David Haynes, NCARB, PMP, LEED AP
Ideate Director of Consulting

David is a Registered Architect, Project Management Certified Professional, who previously had his own architectural practice and was President of a commercial design-build construction company for 15 years. A graduate of University of Arizona, he has worked as an Architect, contractor, developer and as a national construction manager for a national retailer. David currently provides business process analysis, virtualization and change management solutions for AEC clients across the United States involved in the design and building industry. Follow David on Twitter: @dhaynestech

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