Consider this scenario: one day you wake up and think to yourself, “I want to be healthy!”
Don’t we all? The problem with “being healthy” is that it isn’t something you can buy. You can’t buy health with your credit card. Instead, what you actually want is to be a healthy person. This simple phrase change makes you completely rethink the thing you want.
It changes your mind to understand that to achieve the goal that you want, you need to become a person that will reach that goal step by step. A healthy person would probably take daily steps like exercising regularly, having a balanced diet and understanding their weight. These disciplines, practised daily, will make you healthy. The methodology, however, can be applied to much more than just your health.
LSD Open has been very fortunate to work in many enterprises in South Africa, from FSI to telcos to retail, which gives a lot of insight into understanding the goals and challenges these organisations face. Even though all these organisations are very different, they are all going down the same road as all of us. This road, of course, is the road to modernisation.
I want to modernise! Don’t we all? As organisations go down this road, you can again see that the question was posed the wrong way. Instead, companies need to say, “We want to be a modern organisation,” which then automatically returns the question, “What would a modern organisation look like and do?”
A modern organisation:
- Creates a vision and strategy;
- Builds a culture of ability and flexibility;
- Establishes a strong talent management framework to create the skills needed for this world;
- Has a user-centric approach to its products;
- Designs it for scalability and future-proofing;
- Makes sure decisions are driven by data; and
- Has a strong change management approach to communicate the benefits and rationalisation for modernisation effectively.
These are just some of the starting points that you’ll need on your journey. Looking at these requirements, it is clear you cannot do this on your own. In my own experiences from seeing our customers, and when I have been part of panels and roundtable discussions from the US to Europe to South Africa, I have picked up on a common theme: partners are becoming key to the modernisation success.
This may not be news to most people, but finding a partner to help you down this road is incredibly important. However, organisations might still be making a mistake if they try to select one or two partners to do everything they require for this modernisation journey.
In Jim Collins’ book Good to Great, he talks about the Hedgehog Concept, with one of the concepts being, “Determine what you can be best in the world at and what you cannot be best in the world at.” I believe this is what organisations should be thinking about when they choose partners for the modernisation journey – that is, the partner that is the best in the world at that very specific step in the journey.
Hundreds of steps
And there are hundreds of steps, from DevOps to microservices, to serverless, to development, to databases, to caching layers, to infrastructure-as-code, to building agile teams, to changing culture and building strategy presentations and road maps.
The realisation that this task of modernisation is immense is also being experienced by vendors and major cloud providers. They are creating more and more partner ecosystems and building more and more incentives for partners to work together because they, too, understand that a single partner cannot be the best at every aspect of their technology.
The challenge for organisations that want to modernise is not only to select the best partner but also to manage them. A modern organisation needs to become like the conductor of an orchestra – once it has the best players (the best partners) all playing their instruments (being the best in the world at what they do) they will need to provide clear and concise instructions on how to play, and how to play together.
I believe this will allow an organisation to accelerate its journey and that this is the discipline that organisations need to become real experts at. If they can conduct experiences with their partners in true harmony, they will truly be able to modernise their organisation.
To bring this all together, an organisation that wants to be modern needs to have the discipline to embrace the plethora of partners out there, assign to them the appropriate step of their modernisation journey, manage them, and get them to work together.
If this all sounds too difficult, remember, nobody said becoming a modern organisation was easy. Just like trying to be healthy, the benefits of being disciplined only pay off much later down the road.
- The author, Neil White, is CEO at LSD Open
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