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Isn’t it About Time We Started Learning in IT?...

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It is entirely plausible that an IT organization's ability to
learn faster than the rate of change may be the key
determining factor in its value proposition for the Business.

Context


In '90s outsourcing was very much the buzz in the City of London and UBS was one of the first banks to outsource first level support. As I took my first step into UBS I realized there was no turning back, and so it was that I joined Compel on the ground floor.

The IT contractors' market developed rapidly in London during the '90s and it was thanks to that development that I became very quickly acquainted with the IT industry. Some IT people were particularly adept at learning, especially the career contractors, it was in their best interest to absorb and reuse as much knowledge as possible.

As the market developed so did the competition, even to such an extent that I was amazed on one occasion to find my code embedded into the startup scripts of servers at a client that was three times removed by contract and three doors away from the client where I had first developed the code.

That particular contractor had been so keen to reuse the code that he had overlooked my name in the remark statements. That was my introduction to the competitiveness of individual learning and knowledge sharing, not that it really bothered me and on the contrary I was rather flattered to think that my work had been reused.

However, as I began to climb the ladder and become more aware of the 'IT organization' as a whole, I also remember marveling at how inefficient IT organizations were at learning, by making the same mistakes over.

There was also often a feeling of tension between the different players in IT, sometimes that feeling took on an almost tangible characteristic and often full scale 'solution wars' would ensue. Later a colleague explained to me the true meaning of 'the Knights that say NIH' and 'NIH Syndrome', NIH of course, standing for Not Invented Here.

Often it seemed that the greater Business organization's best interests were left far behind the personal interests of the warring IT individuals. Almost 20 years on I still recognize that Organizational Learning is a sore point for IT organizations.

After leaving Camelot to flee yet another court argument,
"My liege, my liege, I have an idea", pipes up Sir Lancelot,
"What is it this time?", replies King Arthur, "What if
we built a slightly more oval shaped table?".

And so it was that the IT industry was formed
to seeketh the holy grail of solutions...


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