Mark McDonald

A member of the Gartner Blog Network

Mark P. McDonald
GVP EXP
8 years at Gartner
24 years IT industry

Mark McDonald, Ph.D., is a former group vice president and head of research in Gartner Executive Programs. He is the co-author of The Social Organization with Anthony Bradley. Read Full Bio

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From Deterministic to Dynamic: changes that will require re-imagining your organization and its technology.

by Mark P. McDonald  |  May 16, 2011  |  2 Comments

The nature of business and therefore the nature of technology are changing in ways that alter the fundamentals of business and IT.  Now I cannot argue which goes first, business or technology change. The world is just too complex to provide a definitive answer.  It is clear that business momentum is required to drive a corporate technology and often-corporate technology innovation gives that momentum its first push.

As that push and subsequent momentum picks up anything can happen.  When those forces reflect a change in business fundamentals, then its time to re-imagine business and technology.  I think one such change is going on now and it is worth thinking about.

The notion of business, its strategy, products, customers etc. is changing from determinism to dynamism.

Here are a few points worth considering and discussing in subsequent blog posts:

  • Modern business thinking is based on determinism.
  • Determinism has driven billions of dollars of corporate investment in information and technology.
  • Determinism is increasingly losing its power and punch and with it the value of continued technology and operational investments in ‘systems’

Dynamism is driven by a number of forces including:

  • Diversity drives dynamism.
  • Competitive barriers have filled in rather than fallen.
  • Wealth is flowing based on ideas and abilities rather than resources.

Leaders seeking deterministic strategies will find themselves rapidly climbing a curve of diminishing returns as they:

  • Find their attention span and focus splintered, as there are too many things to thing about, with equal importance and limited urgency.
  • See little successes everywhere but few blockbusters that will meet investor demands for growth
  • Invest in more control and information systems only to lose control either in the details or in the complexity of social, political and economic change.
  • Spend all of their time planning, re-planning, status reporting and holding people accountable for things that are beyond their immediate control.

Determinism is the foundation for management practices and technology solutions based on plans and investments with predictable results.  These practices will remain as much of business will remain deterministic.

Dynamic realities require additional, innovative and belief busting ideas and practices at all levels of the organization.

Current responses to social media, changing business conditions, and global competition are based on turning up the volume on market signals or customers or on your brand are a stopgap measure at best.

Seeing more, hearing more and speaking more are natural but limited responses to a dynamic world.   The temptation to see and chase ‘patterns’ is everywhere.  Without changes in the way we think about business, lead it and work in it, these patterns will be like chasing ghosts or wild geese — all activity without results.

What are these changes?  Good question and there are a few ideas.  But first I wanted to get your thoughts on the observation that the world is going from deterministic to dynamic and what that means for you.

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Category: Innovation Leadership Management Re-imagine IT Strategy Technology     Tags: , , , , , ,

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