Starting from scratch

I’m often astonished by the amount of difficulty a standard digital corporate project has in getting completed. It seems there are endless processes and validations that need to be adhered to that choke up the system. It reminds me of an article that I read about RIM:

“Apple and RIM actually have very similar business models — they both control physical handsets and the operating systems that run them, unlike Google’s Android and Microsoft’s Windows Mobile, which are only operating systems that run on other companies’ devices.”

“BlackBerry, once the global leader in smartphone technology, has put itself up for sale after years of falling sales and failed revamps.”

Companies do not change or handle change well. There’s no way around it. Businesses are created to sustain themselves not to reinvent themselves. What does that mean? It’s simple really what a company does best is sustain it’s existing practices.

Being able to cope with an external change at the scope of the addition of a product like iphone is untenable for large companies. Instances of companies that failed because they couldn’t handle an external change abound and sunday quarterbacking isn’t really my point. I think in many respects there is an underlying sub context to the problem.

The sub-context points to the inability of companies attempting projects by leveraging good practices, in place processes and existing accepted toolsets. In short the context of the way companies run projects mirrors their agility regarding external environmental changes … they have none.

Rim was one of the largest handset makers in the world and over the course of 3 years it was disrupted by a company that had NEVER made a phone before. Granted it was Apple so … a heavy hitter. Never-the-less it seems unreal to me that a company that has never made a product before can disrupt a company that has been making them for over a decade. There are several lessons to be learned from these stories:

  1. companies need to figure out how to move faster.
  2. companies need to figure out how to exist IN changing environments.
  3. projects for companies need to be able to tackle the problem the way it needs to be tackled, not according to the existing processes or tools.
  4. New can be more flexible and innovative. Experience of doing something for a long time … doesn’t suggest that you do it the best … or even all that well.

2 thoughts on “Starting from scratch

  1. Marc Briney says:


    In the case with RIM, your #3 comment hits the closest….but you can add “willingness” along with ability to tackle a problem or in this case an opportunity.

  2. vonfranklin says:

    Marc … agreed. I think that a big part of the problem is the different ways that business folks and IT folks look at problems. The business is driven by “right now” and IT is driven by the impact to the organization long term … years (think systems of record). We need a fraction of IT that has autonomy to work and act in the same manner that the business does and needs. Right now and with whatever tools, process, people are necessary.

    Much of the reason that Marketing / Sales … etc resort to vendors is due to this discrepancy of viewpoint. It’s an unfortunate scenario and frequently fails at the point of integrating vendor work into existing systems. It’s my contention that we could alleviate much of this tension through creating agile or swift autonomous teams within IT… just a thought.

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