Innovative "Clouds" on the Organizational Horizon
Ever wonder why organizational leaders cling to old ways of doing business? I did the other day while looking at my desk, equipped with a 1-week-old Motorola XOOM, a wireless keyboard, and some scattered whiteboard markers. I found myself questioning why organizations tend to be reluctant about technological innovations, like “cloud computing," when its tools can enhance operations in the long-run.
Many of the antiquated, organizational constructs that guide our daily work life tend to constrain responsiveness, creativity, innovation, and communication. These command-and-control management systems are falling flat in today’s world and, consequently, many well-intentioned organizations are fading fast from the scene. In his book Dot.Cloud, Peter Fingar wrote that “in a world of hyper-change, centralized controlled hierarchies (remember the Soviet Union) simply cannot see the opportunities or move quickly enough.” With many of our organizational leaders trapped in old patterns of static thinking, how can we expect them to readily adopt new work life philosophies that involve innovation and technology?
Many theories about culture, sub-culture, hyper-competition, management, and leadership styles attempt to explain why decision-makers lose their innovative edge. I suspect the most obvious explanation is that our overarching culture prevents the leader-follower relationship from becoming mutually influential. “Are you a leader? A follower? The reality is that we fulfill both roles simultaneously” accordingly to author Robert Kelly. Unfortunately, the current attitude doesn’t support such a reality—not even where cloud computing is concerned.
Here’s my point: We seem to be suffering from a mental recession both from the leadership and follower perspective. This recession is quite noticeable in the resistance to entertain new models of connecting human activity systems that support the sales, operational and service functions of an organization. Since when does adherence to old and static models in any world—sports, learning, teaching and living—support growth?
I was working with a client just the other day who was arguing with a team of collaborative consultants and internal managers about “how” and “why” he was going to build his own computing cloud despite having the ability to use Edge Network Innovations to support his operations through IT fulfillment. Two people did doggie-head-tilts to show concern while another meeting attendant challenged the president by asking, “So you are going to patch together an ‘almost cloud’ with free service and some paid services and not meet client expectations for Internet leads and project management because…?” The room fell deathly silent. The perceived fear of the president’s authority remained intact. After some light dialogue, that feeling started to subside and I realized that I had just witnessed a leader purposely allow himself to become an equal with everyone in the room after being affected by the conversation.
As humans, we are collaborative learning creatures wishing to connect ourselves to larger missions. While I am not the Nostradamus of organizational systems, I predict that we will witness an awakening of innovative thinking as cloud technologies continue to emerge during the next five years. With any luck, we will no longer have to experience reluctance in accepting innovative ways to fuel organizational sustainability. Receptiveness toward cloud communication will create business agility and provide better job quality for employees. Here’s an example.
Edge Network Innovations helped a home infusion company reduce its servers from 26 to two, which drastically cut the company’s electric bill by thousands of dollars. Thanks to the cloud technology provided by Edge Network Innovations, the home infusion team can now write scripts from I-Pads in secure, online spaces. Adopting and adjusting to the technological efficiency and capabilities that Edge Network Innovations introduced called for the letting go of old mental mindsets held by the president of the home infusion company. He had to learn to absorb a new set of notions, ideas and philosophies that serve to improve and enhance the company’s long-term continuity, sustainability, and quality of work.
Cloud technologies stimulate organizational change and will continue to challenge leaders in the months and years ahead. When you see these “cloud” meetings on your organizational horizon, why not un-cloud your team’s thinking? As a leader or follower, consider introducing the “possibility,” a term offered by consultant Peter Block (2010). Introducing cloud technologies through an interventional style, like Block’s Six Conversations, will ensure your organization’s good work grows from within rather than being pulled from the market. The conversation you create and guide could also lead to personal transformation and growth as well as a new feeling of collaboration with your team that, over time, may become part of the organization’s cultural reality.