I just noticed a post over on the Enterprise CIO Forum by Joel Dobbs titled What CIOs (and other executives) can learn from Research In Motion’s dramatic decline.
Its a good read with some good points about the downfall of what once was a great company with a bright future.
A few key points from Joel’s post:
- It’s a long way down from the top. Being the biggest, the best, winning a prestigious award, whatever the “top” means, a fall from there means a long and painful decent.
- When the fall starts, do something! Failing to recognize the problem and deal with it early leads to a long, sometimes rapidly accelerating, decline that will only get worse until no fix is possible.
- Everything happens fast these days. The pace of life in general and business in particular is accelerating at a remarkable pace.
In Joel’s post, he’s using the above bullet points to highlight lessons learned from RIM. At one point in the not too distant past, the Blackberry was the device everyone wanted. It was THE phone. Then…something happened. Apple released the iPhone. Google released the Android OS and Motorola rolled out the “Droid” phone. RIM tried to keep up with a touch screen device but it never really caught on.
Today, RIM is a shadow of its former self. The company is in a bad spot and I doubt it will survive as an independent company. I suspect there are companies out there right now looking at RIM for a merger play…if only for the intellectual property that RIM holds.
Its really too bad. It didn’t have to be this way. RIM could have done more to save itself but I suspect the RIM leadership and culture wouldn’t allow it to recognize that things were bad and they needed to do something.
To expand on Joel’s “move fast” and “do something” call to action, I’d add the following: Move True. In other words…Move. Move fast. Move true.
Now…in order to ‘move true’, one must know how to align any movement to ‘true’. In other words, you’ve to be thinking ahead and planning for these movements.
Of course we can’t plan for everything, but you should be able to plan for most things that come along. Whatever change comes along shouldn’t come as a surprise to you if you are doing your job well. There shouldn’t be any real ‘surprise’ in competition. Nor should their be a ‘surprise’ in technology or governance methods or processes.
As a CIO, what can you do to be prepared to move fast and true? Here’s a few tips to be prepared to move:
- Look to your team. Allow your team members to attend conferences, training and other ‘outside of work’ activities. Keeping them cloistered in the office is a great way to keep the blinders on. Involve your team members in the decision process for change – they may surprise you with their ideas.
- Look to your competitors and your partners What is your number #1 competitor doing? What are they planning for? Of course…this is a tough one…but…we all know the IT world is a small world. CIO’s know CIO’s. IT professionals know IT professionals. People talk. Listen to what they say. What about your business partners…what are they doing?
- Look at the Non-IT groups in your organization. What are your biggest areas where “Shadow IT” is most prevalent? These areas might just be the areas you need to move the fastest in. What are the biggest requests for technology? If they are asking for it, its most likely needed. Or not…but you need to understand the requests to better plan.
- Build culture of ‘agile’. I don’t mean “Agile” as in methodology….I mean ‘agile’ as in flexible, nimble and lightweight. Build processes, procedures and governance in place that allows for flexibility and ‘pivoting’ as needed.
- Stop the spreadsheet engineering and start planning. Just because you can create a spreadsheet, doesn’t mean you should. Too many times, CIO’s and IT professionals build a spreadsheet to ‘plan’…but that’s not planning…that’s numbers.
- Build “what if” scenarios and be prepared to move when change occurs. Don’t overdo it. You don’t need 500 pages of documents to be prepared…but put some thought into what your next steps are if ‘X’ happens and what you’ll do if both ‘X’ and ‘Y’ happen together. Much like Disaster Recovery Planning. In fact, this is Disaster Prevention Planning in a way.
Change happens…and when it does, you should have your plans in place to move. These plans should then allow you to move fast and move true.
Image Credit: true by pittaya on flickr