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Purposeful Innovation

May you live in interesting times …

(mythical Chinese curse)

We truly do live in interesting times; world, political, and economic events over the past days, weeks, and months have impacted us all. Some may see these as exciting and positive – others see fear, uncertainty, and doubt. But it is no doubt interesting.

What do you see – the waves? the rocks? Or the horizon …

Truth be told, in our world of Information and Technology, there is a similar high level of “interesting things” happening; mega-shifts that impact peoples’ lives and livelihood, due to advances in technical capabilities:

  • Artificial intelligence promises to fundamentally change the way we understand our customers and our markets (good), while self-driving trucks promise to radically change the employment picture (scary)
  • Connected devices promise to change how we interact with the world (good), but introduce security and operational threats at a scale previously unimaginable (scary)
  • Social and collaborative tech has liberated our connections and shrunk the world (good), but we still need to figure out cultural and interpersonal aspects of such unfettered, anonymous, unedited, impersonal communication (scary)

What are we do to in the face of such change? Is this a new world order that will foundationally alter our lives? TEOTWAWKI?

I suppose there are many ways people will react, but I myself am falling back on a few basic ideas that have kept me mellow throughout the years …

  1. Accept, understand, and embrace the idea that change is the life blood, the core truth, the raison d’être in our world of Information Technology. Think about the change have you seen through your career – the unbelievable power packed in your notebook computer, the amazing flexibility in your everyday software tools, the stunning capability in the phone you hold in your hand, the transformitive, world-shrinking power of collaboration tools. Change is a constant in the life of a modern business – we should be leaning into every turn like it was second nature.
  2. Realize how well your company and your team is executing, right now. Our global teams are connecting and communicating using a dynamic mix of tools and processes. Collaboration is thriving. We are executing projects with process and consistency. We are prioritizing projects and resources, capturing knowledge, improving our playbooks, reducing complexity, delivering on our commitments.Is everything great? Of course not – there are plenty of opportunities for improvement. But we are markedly better than we were 1 year ago, 3 years ago, 5 years ago – and actively, consistently talking, listening, learning, looking for the next way to get better.
  3. In our IT team, we have an incredibly strong culture, solid engagement throughout the organization, and we are actively, consistently, openly looking to connect and communicate, learn and get better. I trust our teams so much – to give me feedback on when things can be better, what is working well now, and to question me when I suggest or point in a direction that makes you say “Hmmm …”

So what comes next? Well, plenty – it’s a world of opportunity. If you see and hear of a world of pessimism, divisiveness, mistrust, fear, and conservatism – that’s fine for you. But our team has decided not to participate.

We will continue on our path of open and honest communication, of trust, team and excellence. We will stay the course of taking out complexity, focusing on the right things. We will keep moving forward on collaboration, connection, communication – trying more new things, and working to apply them to support and drive our growth objectives.

And we will double down on this bet – by openly, actively reaching out to our peers in the organization. How can we share our processes, teach our skills, demonstrate our collaboration – and change how other parts of the business do the same? We will increase our direct work with product teams, thinking about how to apply information as a new and differentiating feature. We will partner with commercial teams to help strengthen ties with our customers.

We can and will run to this uncertain world of change, embrace it as normal, and actively work to make things better – like we know we can, like we have demonstrated over the last 5 years. We can and will lead by example – and help all of our company do the same.

So how about you, your team, your company? The world is changing, how will you react?

I’m going to dive in – come on, it will be fun!

… or at least, it will be “interesting” …

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