Monday, June 14, 2010

Failed IT Strategies: Preserve the Status Quo

Every once in a while, I have no idea what I'm going to write for the blog. That's when I like going back and reading some of my older blog posts. I find it's a good way to get ideas for new blog posts. So a few minutes ago I found this:

"Over the next few weeks I will examine other failed IT strategies. I will discuss the pros and cons of each ideology so you can make your own decision." ~ Failed IT Strategies, May 13, 2009

Then 16 days later, I posted Failed IT Strategies: The Head In the Sand Approach but afterwards, nothing more. It is past time I rectified this omission. 

First, IT management is all about ideology. I don't mean political, religious or any of the other common things associated with ideologies. I'm saying that whichever Philosophy of the Grand Reason for Business Technology that your IT manager believes in will have an impact on your business. This philosophy will determine the strategies used to deploy tools and services to your workers. Let's just say that with some of these ideologies you will be lucky if it only costs you a small fortune -- if you're unlucky, you'll be in jail.

This leads me to today's Failed IT Strategy. 

Preserve the Status Quo (PSQ) managers will do everything in their power to ensure nothing ever changes. They freeze your business cold -- technologically speaking.

My personal favorite example comes right from recent internet news. Last year several online groups formed to ban Internet Explorer 6 because it was holding back web development. Apparently, in mid-2009, 15-25% of the world was still using Internet Explorer 6 which was released in the Digital Stone Age (2001). And most of those IE6 browsers were running on business computers.

Chances are your car isn't that old, so why should your web browser be? How can you take advantage of the newest advances in internet technology without modern tools? Fortunately, their cries have been heard and now IE6 is only 5% of the internet. It should be extinct soon. 

This is a classic example of the PSQ strategy -- Change is bad. Everything must stay the same forever and ever and ever. And here's 100 million reasons (probably recited in TechnoGeek) why we can never, never change. -- It's stupid and dangerous thinking.

I realize I keep quoting Clay Shirky, but he said it best: "Institutions will try to preserve the problem to which they are the solution." Once you dedicate a group (with a budget!) to the job of fixing a problem, they will do everything in their power to keep that problem relevant. Because as long as the problem is around, they'll have job security. 

If everything stays the same and nothing ever changes we'll never need to face that old problem ever again. 

But what about the new problem? The reason the Preserve the Status Quo strategy is a failure is because it doesn't adapt well to new problems. Many cannot adapt at all. And if they do, they always work from within the context of the old problem first. They will work to adapt the old problem to work around the new problem. The followers of this ideology will work very hard to preserve what they have already created, including Frankenstein networks and other technological horrors. 

You need to be proactive. You need to know what changes are coming. You need to stay flexible  and agile so you can react to change. We can't hunker down in a technological bunker and hope for the best. And that's exactly what the PSQ strategy is all about. 

A good leader understands that change is inevitable. That we must accept and embrace it. A good leader knows that it is important to help your business adapt to evolving markets and business opportunities. That means the status quo has to go out the window. Instead we need status flux -- a state of constant change. 

Somebody check my Latin. 

R-Squared Computing - Business Technology Experts
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