Like many with corporate IT backgrounds, I find the do-it-yourself (DIY) technology movement simultaneously intriguing and frightening. Intriguing, because of the ease of connecting with co-workers, partners, customers and information to solve problems, improve interactions and advance the business. Frightening, because I’ve lived through (barely) the data, network and integration nightmares brought on by islands of Access, Excel, FileMakerPro, Visual Basic, etc.
Of course, today’s DIY technologies – Smart mobile devices, Pervasive video, Cloud computing services and Social technologies – are exponentially more powerful than their office productivity predecessors. Therefore, they must be exponentially more troublesome, right? Well, that depends.
In Empowered, a new book by Josh Bernoff (co-author of Groundswell) and Ted Schadler of Forrester Research, the authors address this very challenge, how to balance front-line innovation with back-room risk management. Or, as the authors describe it, changing the way your business runs to harness the power of HEROes: highly empowered and resourceful operatives.
Following an attention grabbing introductory section, the book’s guidance is presented in two more parts. In part two, the authors focus on HERO projects, describing opportunities and challenges, elucidating with real-world examples, sharing tools and walking through a four-step process to match-up with that other critical DIY base, your empowered customers.
A helpful tool is the HERO Project Effort-Value Evaluation. After answering a series of questions on a potential projects effort and value, you calculate your projects EVE score. Scores fall into one of six categories, from no-brainer (value exceeds effort by 25 points) to shadow IT (high effort). On the Shadow IT projects, the authors don’t say never, however they point out the risk factors, success impediments, and advise collaboration with senior management and IT.
In part three, the authors discuss how management, information technology and HEROes work together to achieve that all important opportunity-risk balance.
The critical concept in part three is the establishment of a HERO Compact. The HERO Compact is an accord between management, information technology and HEROes, guiding each group’s behavior to make “HERO-powered innovation successful”.
In the spirit of empowerment, I’ve clipped the high-level HERO Compact from Amazon’s Search Inside this Book.
The chapter continues with specific pledges for IT, management and HEROes. Each pledge reinforces that success requires individual responsibility, collaboration and trade-offs.
For example, the IT Pledge includes: “I will respect requests for new technology support and find ways to say, “Yes, and” rather than automatically saying “No.”.
The HERO Pledge includes: “If my projects entail a significant effort, I will work with my managers and IT to better understand the long-term impact of those projects”.
And the Management Pledge includes: “I will respect assessments of technology risk in HERO projects and work with IT and others to quantify, mitigate and ultimately manage that risk”.
Empowered does a nice job of describing the compelling workforce and customer benefits of embracing DIY technologies, while painting a realistic view of the traps and risk, and offering pragmatic advice and tools for prospective HEROes, managers and IT to co-create a front-line innovation environment.
Organizations struggling to keep up with their customers, employees or competitors on the DIY technology revolution need to read Empowered and think seriously about HERO Compacts.
[Disclosure: Forrester sent me a free “no obligation” copy of Empowered.]