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  • Writer's pictureJeremy Cooper

You’re all being outsourced!

How do you react?

I’ve been listening to a book call Tools of Titans by Tim Ferriss which is an amazing collection of the Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons, and World-Class Performers that have come on his podcast or he has interviewed. There are some amazing inspiration stories and ideas in the book, however, one got me buzzing more than others as it’s so relevant to IT. Peter Diamandis is the founder of the X Prize, the competition around commercial space travel, along with a whole host of other space related businesses with some seeming crazy (asteroid mining springs to mind). One of his mantras is:

“You either disrupt your own company or someone else will.” The premise behind it was if you don’t innovate then a competitor will and they will likely take down your company or at least overtake you and impact your profit. An example of this can be that Uber who have fundamentally changed the way private hire transportation is viewed and operated from the traditional taxi companies.

His recommendation was to get a load of 20 somethings that work for the company and give them the challenge to come up with the idea of how to take the company down. From there you can reverse engineer how to disrupt yourself to provide that value.

Now most of us don’t run our own company, however, we work in a function that is both highly disrupted on a regular basis, think cloud, think collaboration tools, think storage architecture even, and at the same time we’re often very stuck in our ways and seem to often need to be forced into innovation or disruption. We’re often so focused on maintaining metrics and stability that we can fear innovation and change, as there is a risk of service interruption.

With agile methodologies rolling out across organisations rather than just software, there has never been a better time to disrupt. Small innovative ideas can be rapidly tried, tweaked, and deployed to the greater good of the company.

Now this sounds like something too big or out of your control so the key is to bring it to the right level where you can impact it, but at the same time it needs to be big enough that you’re going to make an impact to your company

The scenario I posed to my team on this topic was simple:

‘A managed service partner wants to take what you do and run it as a service e.g. Service Desk, deskside support, application development

What would be the areas they would present to the CIO as them being better than you, what are your short comings, what innovation can they bring?’

I think this is a great question as it’s broad and challenging, also it’s something that happens all the time as teams do a good job but sometimes rest on their laurels too much, not my team though 😊.

Some ideas here could be to increase the use of automation for a faster user experience, see what annoys end users the most and fix it, provide extra languages on the service desk or even better provide chat bots in the languages required, implement continuous service improvement processes, more control over changes etc. the list is endless

To ask this question, get the team together, have some people who have been in the company a long time, new people, young and old as the diversity is what provides thought leadership and simply pose the question, don’t steer the conversation, just challenge them to go away and come up with ideas.

If you’re a sole contributer then think of ideas, ask your peers then take the approach to your leadership team, with a few examples. Aren’t you ahead of your time and a real go getter! 😉

Here are some tips to make sure it is successful, and you have the right culture in general for disruption

1. Instil a culture of learning and innovation.

It's easy to miss the warning signs of approaching disruption or lack of. Even if Net Promoter Scores (NPS) are good, there is always improvements to be had.

Ensure there is a culture of innovation and learning for yourself and your team, if you have one, this doesn’t mean training on the latest tools and tech but going to roundtable events and workshops run by your vendors to show what you could be doing. There is always something cool to learn that someone else has found successful. You need to give people the time to do this so build it into plans

2. Avoid legacy thinking.

How many times have you heard “it’s always been like that here”, “we can’t change as there is a regulation”, “IT security dictates ….”, “our users wouldn’t use it”. Be careful you don’t use comments like this to halt progress, if challenged many are not applicable or not even true.

This isn’t new or just for IT, here are some examples from history:

  • 1876: "The telephone has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication." -- Western Union internal memo

  • 1921: "The wireless music box has no imaginable commercial value. Who would pay for a message sent to nobody in particular?" -- Radio and TV pioneer David Sarnoff's associates on radio technology

  • 1977: "There is no reason for any individual to have a computer in his home." -- Ken Olson, founder and CEO of Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC)

3. Reward ideas, however big or small, however good or bad

For people to feel safe and open to presenting new ideas there needs to be an openness to receive them. Challenge the team for ideas but always be open to the ideas that come back. You don’t know everything, and it might be your bias holding the idea back. Check out newsletter 33 about limiting beliefs

Go give it a try, the ideas might amaze you and there is no risk as if nothing else it’s stretched the minds of others.

Also, the idea of an MSP coming to take your role is very real and therefore there’s a great benefit to getting ahead of them


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