for all involved in #organisationdesign the beauty of technology pull versus the ubiquitous push

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Who came up with this idea?  The red wax supplier?

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Information technology is an integral part of nearly every business. At least in the administration, but in many cases also in the core process of the business. No parking ticket without a handheld printer that automatically connects with a central database. No item in a supermarket without a bar code. No logistics without tracking and tracing system. No customer relationship without electronic exchange or web-based interaction.

The information technology industry is doing a reasonable good job in providing solutions that increase productivity, safety or the quality of decision-making. Not to speak about the imbedded information technology in all kinds of products. And the IT industry continuously markets loads of new ideas and concepts targeted at the profit and non-profit organisation, promising a broad spectrum of potential benefits. They aim their hopeful messages directly at the non-it management or indirectly to the it professionals of an organisation. There is nevertheless a caveat in this promise of the blessings of information technology. As a customer you have to do the real difficult thing, you have to come up with concrete area or business case where you can apply the wonders of technology. IT provides a technological solution (or concept) and the customer has to find the problem. With between the lines the message, you will lose if can’t apply our solutions. This is quite a normal procedure in sales (although teached and preached differently).

Yet, the information technology industry has really refined this ritual of unfulfilled promises, and many executives buy into this promise without exactly knowing what they buy. It leads to troublesome projects and increasing amounts of  management and governance. The technology push is difficult to manage and intrinsic unstable. It brings the need for all kinds of sophisticated management tools and practices  to control the increasing complexity (a business in itself).  All kind of additional layers of IT strategists, information architects, outsourcers, steering committees, programmes management etc. are introduced to make sure the organisation can somehow reap the promised  and presumed benefits.

It seems the counter-veiling force of push, pull, is forgotten in managing information technology. The idea of pull is about challenges that need to be met and technology that is challenged to come up with viable solutions.

No artist started painting because somebody convinced him or her that brushes are the things needed, to make money. The Apollo rockets  flying to the moon, were the results of a challenge set out by president Kennedy, not the other way around. In many areas pull is normal and the idea of push seems odd. That seems to be forgotten when it comes to organising the application of information technology.

Pull as an alternative might lead to less governance, less frustration, less waste and more fun, better applications and more innovation, as it is more stable by nature  (Try to push a robe). Thinking functionality instead of technological wonders and specifications, demanding absolute hassle free user experiences, looking beyond the value of today’s technology to longer lasting values, taking the  slight risks that technology can’t provide the solution, these elements make up a mindset that will help to establish pull. And maybe then, technology will bring even more beauty.

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