Friday, November 19, 2010

The IT Cycle of Optimism and Hubris

Once you have reach the twenty year mark in your IT career, look back, and chances are likely that you’ve experienced a few cycles of optimism from your leadership regarding using the latest software tools to become more competitive.

However, there’s a big difference when the optimism comes from the CEO vs. CIO. If it’s coming from the top it’s in the form of high level goals which are translated “logically” down to the tools to implement them. If the optimism comes from the CIO, the chances of it working are much lower and that’s because the CIO is throwing tools at a systemic problem that will eased a bit but not solved by them.

We’re at least at the second IT cycle of hype with “Knowledge Management” and Enterprise 2.0. As these cycles of optimism hit wide-eyed leaders who were not present during the last cycle enthusiasm breaks out on the presentation circuit with promises of curing the culture gap of knowledge sharing within companies.

Will Sharepoint solve the communication issues between different groups during the lifecycle of ideas, memes, and products? Did eRoom solve the issues in the late 90’s? Did ECM suites try for the past 10 years to make it easy for groups to share information? Wasn’t email or isn’t twitter going to help us? The point is that we need to go through these cycles to fail and get better at automating certain menial aspects of processing the information in our heads. The governance of engagement will prove to be a challenge with any attempts to fully electronically explore sharing of ideas within a company.

Dr. SIDDHARTHA MUKHERJEE talking about optimistic cancer “cures” that prove to a momentarily hubris in a long battle to finding cures:
“They said well, how can we possibly run a trial on something that we know has got to work? This story carries the memory of the kind of optimism that very quickly tips into hubris, which is so much part of the story of cancer.”

Tom Davenport, blogging a few years ago on Ent 2.0:
”I admit to a mild hostility to the hype around Enterprise 2.0 in the past. I have reacted in a curmudgeonly fashion to what smelled like old wine in new bottles. But I realized after hearing Andy talk that he was an ally, not a competitor. If E2.0 can give KM a mid-life kicker, so much the better. If a new set of technologies can bring about a knowledge-sharing culture, more power to them. Knowledge management was getting a little tired anyway.”

David Weinberger on Davenport’s 2007 blog above:
“But it's reasonable to think that the technology, when taken up and used, will affect enterprises directly and indirectly…”

No comments: