It is easy to get carried away with the possibilities of new technology, and networked ways of working, and assume that this makes it possible to sweep away large chunks of our current corporate overheads. IT, HR and Corporate Communications are usually the targets for this – oh and don’t forget middle managers, wherever they work, who are always a target for “delayering”. But do we really want to get rid of them all.
Like the old saying “just because you’ve got a word processor it doesn’t make you a novelist”. There are skills and expertise in those groups that we still need – and in fact need more than ever before. This HBR article “Do You Have the IT For the Coming Digital Wave?” makes the point that those IT departments who manage to reinvent themselves and become more enabling and adaptable will do really well. In fact we really want all of these groups to enthusiastically join us in our new more connected, faster moving world and to help us do it better.
The problem is that so many of them, both collectively and individually, are stuck in gatekeeper or expert mode. They are still acting like the grown ups even though they know less than the kids. This is a dangerous situation both for them and the organisations they still have a vice like grip on. They need to shift from control to enable, to become entrepreneurial and supportive. Sadly not all will make this transition.