February 24, 2016

Good to Great: Technology Accelerators

Good to Great: Technology Accelerators

In this blog post I would like to go over the ways in which great companies approached technology differently from their good counterparts. Interestingly, the great companies were able to sift out the technology trends and carefully select the ones that could assist them in achieving their Hedgehog Concept and not just use them for FOMO (Fear of Missing Out)

The Latest Technology Fad

As I mentioned above, the great companies were able to identify which technologies would be in alignment with their Hedgehog Concept. They didn't adopt a technology just because it was the latest and greatest or for the sake of it.

Personally, I find this very interesting because this is exactly what I see most companies doing today...chasing the latest and greatest. Lets take the Apple Watch as an example, personally I believe that this is Apples's response to make sure that they are in the wearables space, but does it make sense? In my opinion, I would say no. Don't get me wrong, getting quick notifications on your wrist can be useful, but other than that it isn't practical in 99% of the scenarios. I believe that Apple were afraid of missing out on the latest technology trend, instead of taking a step back and trying to define another trend.

In his book, Jim Collins states the following, which I think is very relevant:

The Hedgehog Concept would drive the use of technology, not the other way around.

An Accelerator, Not a Creator

An interesting point that the book made was that when technology was used correctly it would become an accelerator of momentum, not a creator of it. For a long time, I believed that taking advantage of latest technology would separate the upper echelon of companies from the rest. Maybe this is because of my programmer background where everything shiny and new is the best. However, the point was made that you cannot decide which technologies to use until you have your Hedgehog Concept defined and once that is done, the technology needs to align with it.

If the technology does align with your Hedgehog Concept, then you need to take it by the horns and become a pioneer in it. If it isn't then all you need to settle for either being a "normal user" of it or ignoring it completely.

Sometime it may be hard to ignore the hype of a particular technology and this is where having absolute discipline comes into play.

The Technology Trap

A surprising fact that Jim Collins discovered while analyzing the great companies was that more than 80% of them didn't rank technology as on of the top five factors for making a company great. This was also surprising to me as so often we hear that some new technology will either make or break a company so they need to get on the bandwagon as soon as possible.

Jim Collins also went on to discover that a companies primary cause for failure was never due to technology. Sure, if you lagged in a technology that was in your Hedgehog Concept, you would just be good and not great, but it was never the reason for a company going under. In addition, technology by itself will never take a company from good to great, or prevent it from an impeding disaster.

Closing Out

In essence, what is important to remember is that if a technology doesn't fit squarely with your Hedgehog Concept, then you should either ignore it or just use it. However, if the opposite is true, then you need to embrace it completely. It is important to remember that it is an accelerator of momentum and not a creator of it!

Until next time...keep learning!