by: Sigurd Rinde

“Give a man a fish; you have fed him for today. Teach a man to fish; and you have fed him for a lifetime”

Roughly translated to business and IT it would be:

"Give a man IT applications; you have made him profitable for today. Enable a man to change his ways; and you have given him the potential to profit for a lifetime."

The way we operate, the way we go about in any business or organisation is based on age old ways: Hierarchies from ancient societies, accounting with it's transaction focused processes from old Venice and documents and forms from the days of paper only.

Business habits hails from a world of walking, riding, papyrus, ledgers and quills so they're not exactly efficient. Investing in better horses, paper or ledgers does not change the ways, only the speed. Up to a certain point.

Changing ways (and ultimately habits) when technology changes would be the smart thing to do of course. But changing habits is never easy, and mostly strongly resisted.

That's when the IT business stepped in - smelling an opportunity, a "problem to solve" - with two alternative solutions: Allow business to change their ways, or allow them to stick to old methods albeit more efficient.

So what does the IT industry do? They follow the easy path of course, pushing a customer to change never works, so stick to the selling-point of "no ruffled feathers" and deliver efficiency increase for old methods.

Everybody's happy, status quo is secured. And no doubt about it, faster it became, more profits ensued. But one day soon it'll plateau when everybody uses the same tools and the method-limits hits us. Even the big enterprise software suppliers are starting to use the word "mature", and business see lower and lower gains when upgrading or adding more-of-the-same systems.

And things might be changing: The "easy way out" is becoming less of a good business proposition, the business user may be closer to wanting to change his ways. He might not have to be pushed any more.

The willingness to learn to fish is increasing.

Use different resources and combine them in less resource hungry ways - then try again tomorrow with other resources and other ways, that's what business and fishing is about.

IT today is mostly built so as to satisfy your craving for yesteryear's menu, don't get caught by the lure of that. Request that IT shall open new doors and new ways - IT should allow you to learn to fish.

Original Post: http://thingamy.typepad.com/sigs_blog/2008/09/teaching-how-to.html

Leave a Comment