5. Conclusion – The Business Bottleneck

Chapter 5. Conclusion

“Technology isn’t the problem, it’s people” a cherished chestnut of IT improvement goes. Getting those stacks of software up and running is relatively straightforward to reprogramming how the people in an organization work. From the questions I hear, management often feels like their staff isn’t capable of changing. Going up the stack, terms like “the frozen middle” show that executives don’t feel like their staff can change. What a way to think of your employees.

A programmer would never say that source code that failed to compile or pass tests was “not fully capable.” Instead, the programmer would know that they’d written the code wrong, failed to see the big picture of how their code integrated with other systems, or otherwise done something wrong in creating an environment in which their software would be successful.

Transforming a large organization takes money, planning, and leadership. People are the easy part; business is what’s hard. IT people will figure out the technology, they’ll even figure out how to self-organize. What they won’t be able to figure out is scaling that change to 20,000 people in a large organization. Even that methodological city on the hill, Spotify, has challenges at 1,500 and 2,000 people. Building an enterprise-class innovation factory requires everyone to do their share.

Transforming the entire organization is the job of the senior executive team, the board even. If they go around thinking that their people aren’t “fully capable,” there’s something wrong with how the executives are managing that transformation. Instead, if you’re leading change, you have to grow, nurture, and respect the people in your organization.

Despite those who dismissively think their organization is incapable, it’s been my experience that given the right environment and after removing the usual series of tedious bottlenecks, people will create great software. Then, innovation is easy: all you have to do is ask.