Technological innovations are faster, product development cycles are shorter, and expectations for everything are higher; in short the velocity of business, driven by technological change, is increasing exponentially, according to Scott Klososky in his book The Velocity Manifesto: Harnessing Technology, Vision and Culture to Future-Proof Your Organization. Increased velocity demands leadership skills that are very different from the ones that were effective twenty years ago.
Part One of the book is about “renovating your digital plumbing”. Most business leaders recognise the importance of information technology to their success, but admit that their organisation’s IT resources are far from optimal. It is critical that you get your IT right by fixing the leaks in your digital plumbing if you are to have any chance of keeping up with the pace of change.
Part Two is about “high beam strategy”. Many businesses are driving with their headlights off – and doomed to crash – or with their headlights on low-beam, focusing only on the immediate future, so that they can only travel at low speed. Businesses which travel at high speed need to have their headlights on high beam, anticipating the trends which will happen over the next five years or more.
Part Three is about “creating a culture of velocity”. There is a big difference in productivity between a good programmer and an average programmer, and good IT people need to be treated like the creative artists that they are. IT-dependent businesses need to cultivate organisational cultures which are attractive to the millennial generation and take advantage of social technologies.
In my view this book does an excellent job of identifying the problems faced by current IT-dependent organisations and suggesting solutions. Business leaders cannot get the best results by simply leaving the IT strategy to the IT department; they have to take the time to understand the technology and work out how they can use the technology to drive better business results.
I would not have chosen the expression “digital plumbing” as a metaphor for IT infrastructure, because it suggests something that is necessary but does not make a great contribution to success. In fact, for knowledge-based organisations the IT infrastructure is often the most significant contributor to profitability. This easy-to-read book is worthy of the attention of any business leader.