The Future Belongs to the Dynamic Organization

By Charles Araujo
typing laptop keyboard

The Future Belongs to the Dynamic Organization

By Charles Araujo

A funny thing has happened over the last two years. The conversation about IT in both business and IT circles has shifted. When we rebranded our organization as "The IT Transformation Institute" three years ago, the idea that there is a need to transform the way IT works was just beginning to be discussed. The most common reaction we heard at the time was along the lines of "Why do I need to transform? And into what?"

What a difference a few years can make.

Today, virtually every conversation I have with a senior IT or business executive begins with some form of the phrase, "Everything has changed." The idea that the IT organization must change if it is to remain relevant has become an accepted truth. I think that is an important first step, but the real and more important question is this: If everything is changing, what should the future IT organization look like?

This article is the eighth and final article in a series titled "Seven Steps to a Next-Generation IT Organization." In this series, I have tried to answer this question. I've laid out a roadmap describing what it will take to become this type of next-generation IT organization. The seventh and final step, and the fifth organizational trait from my book, The Quantum Age of IT: Why Everything You Know About IT is About to Change, is both simple and elusive. It is to become a Dynamic Organization.

Dynamic: The Whole Is Greater Than the Sum of the Parts

In my previous articles, I have described the four fundamental organizational traits—that each organization must become a Learning Organization, a Disciplined Organization, a Transparent Organization and an Intimate Organization. Each of these first four traits are the building blocks to becoming a Dynamic Organization. Each is a critical part of your journey. But in isolation, these four traits will not be enough. They will help you improve and get better, but they will not help you become the type of dynamic organization that will be needed in the very near future. It is only when these four traits are brought together and woven into a new way of working that you can become truly dynamic. While the four preceding traits are the building blocks, being a dynamic organization is more of an attitude and an approach.

The building blocks must be mastered. That's the starting point. But it is how they are blended and leveraged that transforms an organization into this type of next-generation IT organization. And that blending is almost like each organization’s secret recipe. It will be different for each organization, based on their specific needs and business models. What it means to become a Dynamic Organization will be different in each case, but every dynamic organization—every next-generation IT organization—will share four specific attributes.

The Four Attributes of the Dynamic Organization

A Dynamic Organization is one that has uniquely combined specific elements of the four foundational organizational traits to become a responsive, agile and adaptive organization that is tailored to meet the needs of the broader organization. Each dynamic organization shares four key attributes. They will be:

Fast and Reactive. When you hear the word "dynamic," there's a pretty good chance you have this image of an organization that can react rapidly to everything that is thrown at it. And that is part of it, but there is a fundamental difference between an organization that reacts well and one that is truly dynamic. While a dynamic organization is fast and reactive, it is reactive because of its proactive nature. Driven by its nature as a learning and highly disciplined organization, it will anticipate when and how a reactive posture will be required and prepare for that eventuality.

Flexible and Adaptive. As our customer's world moves faster and faster, simply being reactive is not good enough. They need more from us. They require that we offer them the flexibility and adaptability that they need to respond to rapidly evolving challenges and opportunities. Leveraging the foundations of being a learning and disciplined organization, you will be accustomed to operating in a constant state of change. When you combine that with varying degrees of transparency and intimacy, you will build a scalable organization that can adapt to changing needs without disrupting existing operations.

The Future Belongs to the Dynamic Organization

Adoptive. To be adoptive is to have adopted something as your own. In a dynamic organization, IT professionals will have "adopted the business" as their own. They will have chosen to live their lives in the lives of their customers. This is the essence of customer intimacy. In dynamic organizations, this customer intimacy will enable IT leaders to move beyond simply relying on and responding to customer needs. Dynamic organizations will leverage this intimacy to anticipate demand and to uncover needs before customers can articulate them.

Innovative. At their core, dynamic organizations will be innovative organizations. Leveraging the deep levels of transparency and intimacy, they will innovate naturally. These innovations will not be about big, revelatory changes most of the time. Instead, these will be small, consistent innovations that over time and in the aggregate have a significant impact. Dynamic organizations will take the same commoditized technologies that their competitors have access to and combine them with unique business processes to drive significant and differentiating value to the organization. This kind of innovation will be the operating model of the dynamic, next-generation IT organization.

What Our Customers Have Always Wanted

Becoming a dynamic, next-generation IT organization is to become the IT organization that our customers have always wanted. It's really what they have always expected. And, if we're being honest, what we have always wanted, too. Being a part of this kind of organization is fun. It’s fulfilling and meaningful. In dynamic organizations, IT isn't regarded as a cost center or a necessary evil. Instead, IT is part of the fabric of everything that the business does.

There is often talk about how IT wants a seat at the table. But when we reach this state of being a dynamic, next-generation IT organization, there is no table. No one has the time to sit down and plot out these nice, neat strategies and execute them over a nice, neat five-year planning horizon. In the world that we now find ourselves, everything is moving at light speed. Strategies will be in a constant state of change as competitors react and innovate ever faster. Those organizations that rely on the historical models where the big decisions get made at the table will find their market share eroded as their competitors move faster than they can ever contemplate.

The future will belong to the organizations that can move and change rapidly, innovate at a relentless pace, and look for every opportunity to leverage technology to create differentiation and unique value for their customers. They will not be sitting around a table. They will be out in the real world, getting it done. And none of that will be possible unless they have a dynamic, next-generation IT organization that makes it all work.

That's the future. And it belongs to the dynamic organization.

About the Author

Charles Araujo is a recovering consultant and accidental author of the book, The Quantum Age of IT: Why Everything You Know About IT is About to Change. He is an internationally recognized authority on IT Leadership and liberally shares his message of hope about the future of IT and what it means for all of us. He is the founder and CEO of the IT Transformation Institute and serves on the boards of itSMF USA and the Executive Next Practices Institute. You can follow him at @charlesaraujo.

Editor's note: This is the final installment of an eight-part article series titled "Seven Steps to a Next-Generation IT Organization." To read the previous installment ("Are You Brave Enough to be an Intimate Leader?"), click here.

This article was originally published on 05-27-2014