If you are old enough, or a film fan, you will recall the famous speech by Gordon Gekko in the film Wall Street where he espouses the idea that ‘greed is good’‘ There is a double edge to using that analogy to support my argument – but here goes!…
In a non-tech corporation, the biggest problem in your business-IT function isn’t controlling the hype of an over zealous IT industry anymore. Maybe it was a decade ago, but not today. Many of the incumbents are happy to keep taking repeat maintenance revenues for the stuff you already have without offering game changing innovations or seriously helping you to internally-market new ideas. They are battoning down their revenue stream hatches, waiting for the recession storm to pass.
So if you hope to ‘leverage the downturn’* by introducing major new technology enabled business process changes, business model changes or competencies … where will the energy come from? Mature, large company management cultures are usually dominated by silo complexity and political inertia. Add the fear of recession job losses and they can go into a glacial torpor – the hope being that ‘if we change nothing we might survive’. Nobody dares take a risk that would mark their card personally, notching them up the the HR department’s severance-list spreadsheet .
Right now, I think some industry hype is a valuable thing. It’s maintaining a sense of momentum under very difficult circumstances. It creates a sense of compulsion – to investigate at least, to experiment hopefully and to implement perhaps. So think twice before hitting out at cloud hype, green hype and social media hype. These are high energy sources that might overcome inertia and help your industry move on to a new level of performance over the next few years. Like all energy sources they are precious and deplete all too rapidly.
If you think hype offends, try moving your project idea through the business case approval process, to action, during the trough of disillusionment. Or wait 5 to 10 years until the plateau of productivity is very firmly established…. assuming your position and your company survive that long.
Innovators question everything – including the received wisdom that hype is a problem. Exploit this powerful market/social force to your advantage, rather than sitting on the sidelines hoping the recession will just go away.
Hype will help power the creativity in ‘creative destruction’. One person’s hype is another person’s evangelism anyway. Hype forms in our collective social excitement about the new and the novel. It is both necessary and inevitable – so use it.
* I so dislike this expression but it’s short and functional