What is my job? How do I/we create value in the increasingly global and competitive world? What is my role in the whole? These are all questions we face as individuals, teams, business units and entire organizations.
These questions have a new and urgent meaning in a world of unprecedented choice where the supply of goods and services systematically exceeds demand. The result is that we all have choice as customers, professionals, suppliers, etc.
Choice upsets just about everything including the nature of your job.
Consider the following idea. In a world of choice, customers have the power and predilection for change as markets offer them new and ever expanding product and service opportunities. These opportunities escalate in concert with rising customer expect ions creating a self re- enforcing cycle that leaves the status quo behind.
In this environment of choice, just doing your job increasingly a sign that you should lose your job. By doing your job I mean limiting yourself to meeting predefined service level and performance requirements to define success. That is the definition of status quo that is sinking to the bottom of the market.
This issue came up while reviewing ideas about how to match IT performance with business performance. The idea that IT performance is measured in terms of meeting cost and quality of service requirements is prevalent among many IT professionals. They see IT as a service that enables the business and therefore waits for the business to initiate demand before they provide a supply of solutions.
This view makes sense as meeting your commitments, in this case service commitments, is a definition of success.
There are a few problems with that view, particularly in a world of increasing choice.
- First, the assumption that meeting requirements defines success assumes that you are the sole source of those services. You can do your job and get away with it when there is no other game in town.
- Second, a world where doing only your predefined responsibilities represent success assumes that those responsibilities are stable and unchanging. The same old same old is ok, because things never really change around here. That includes assuming the same old technologies.
- Doing your job, the whole job and nothing but the job devalues learning, change and improvement. Without these your job, your team, your function and company become core rigidities as your de facto specialization in the present creates and diminishes your ability to adapt. This makes you the ‘eaten’ in the phrase eat or be eaten.
Competition, customers and choice demand the ability to change and too often IT organizations — the generators of business change — are the slowest ones to change.
We have been lulled into that sense of false specialization and security that meant that while people may dabble in IT, no one but IT really mastered the complexity, control and operations.
That has created a world that requires re-imagining requirements define success only when there is no competition and no other way to achieve those results.
For the past thirty years or so that was true for the captive IT organization ad they were the only place to provision technology services.
New technologies are creating choice that has
- eroded away IT’s exclusivity
- made service requirements commercial terms of business, and
- created the transparency necessary for others to judge the relative value of your work
The result is that those who are ‘just doing their job’ are working themselves out of that job.