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Why Self-Organization Demands a New Reality | @ExpoDX #DX #ML #Agile

It is not a lack of knowledge or capability that stops organizations from adopting these new models

Why Self-Organization Demands a New Reality
Guest post by Intellyx Principal Analyst Charles Araujo

"This all sounds great. But it's just not realistic."

This is what a group of five senior IT executives told me during a workshop I held not long ago. We were working through an exercise on the organizational characteristics necessary to successfully execute a digital transformation, and the group was doing their ‘readout.'

The executives loved everything we discussed and agreed that if such an environment existed, it would make transformation much easier. They just didn't believe it was realistic.

Our job as analysts is not only to observe the world as it exists, but also to paint an aspirational picture of how it might be.

As a result, we spend a lot of time and commit a lot of digital ink to discussing emerging technologies and approaches, and their potential impact on how organizations will operate and function.

In many cases, the mere act of examining an emerging trend and exploring its potential implications is enough to help our readers see things in a different light and begin to imagine a different future.

Some areas are more difficult than others to tackle - and some meet with outright resistance. And the topic that seems to meet the most resistance now may also be the most important: self-organization.

The Self-Organization Challenge
As we examine the many facets of digital transformation, we must also explore the mindset shifts necessary to make this transition.

One of those shifts is the need to move from the slow-moving and bureaucracy-laden hierarchical models of the industrial age to the self-organizing management models that the digital era requires.

Jason Bloomberg, president of Intellyx, in fact, devotes a significant portion of his forthcoming book, Agile Digital Transformation, to this topic and we dedicate a lot of space in the Cortex and our articles for Forbes and our blog to helping business and IT executives understand the importance of this shift.

Nevertheless, the move towards self-organization appears to be an idea that executives just can't seem to get their head around.

During that same workshop, two separate executives pulled me aside and questioned my call to embrace the flattening of the organizational model and the need for self-organizing teams.

"Some people - most people, really - don't want to make decisions or take control," one executive told me. "They just want to be told what to do."

As anyone who has ever held a management position knows, there is a lot of truth to this statement - at least on the surface. It can indeed seem that employees are unwilling to stand up and step forward. For a hard-charging and change-minded executive, it can be very frustrating.

But it is not a lack of desire that causes this apparent lack of ambition. Instead, it is a lack of faith that things will actually change which results in employees' unwillingness to take the initiative and assert control. Why put yourself out there, the thinking goes, if this is just another in a long line of management trends du jour.

This unwillingness of teams to take the initiative, however, will be the death knell of any self-organizing effort. To overcome this challenge, therefore, executives need to step back and recognize that to achieve this vision of self-organization - which will be critical to their transformational efforts - they must create a new reality.

Innovation's and Self-Organization's Common Dilemma
There are two forces at play, however, that hold organizations back from transforming their culture and creating a new reality that will be conducive to self-organization - and which wildly popular business books have already well documented.

In 1997, Harvard Business School professor, Clayton Christensen, released one of the most influential business book ever written, The Innovator's Dilemma. Yet twenty years later, many organizations are still unable to overcome the dilemma.

In his book, Christensen explains that large enterprises fail to innovate not because they do not recognize the innovation or because they are unable to re-organize around it. Instead, he reveals, executives have built their incumbent enterprises to maximize value and meet ever-increasing growth demands - and innovations, in that context, fail to meet return-on-investment (ROI) expectations and so are left to languish.

In effect, the very systems that enable large enterprise organizations to flourish and grow also ensure that they will undervalue and disregard the innovations that will ultimately disrupt them.

Self-organizing initiatives run into precisely this headwind. While executives may recognize their inherent value and promise to help meet the rising demands of the digital era, these self-organizing management models introduce high levels of risk and do not guarantee the kind of ROI that corporate management models expect. As a result, executives may dabble and experiment, but they otherwise resist the full-throated embrace of self-organization that digital transformation demands.

But even if an executive musters the courage to pursue self-organization, they run into the second force of resistance: apathetic teams.

Misaligned Motivators Undermine Self-Organization
The corporate structure of the industrial age was purpose-built to turn employees into replaceable cogs in the corporate machine. Reliability, repeatability, and consistency have been the most valuable employee traits for generations.

While organizations have always paid lip service to the value of ingenuity, ambition, and risk-taking (at least over the last thirty or forty years), the reality is that these traits only served you as long as everything worked out in the end. As soon as things turned sour, that ingenious, ambitious and risk-taking employee was often looking for employment elsewhere.

Conventional wisdom was that employees responded best to positive/negative reinforcement models - the proverbial carrot and stick. And, as we all know, we are much more likely to want to avoid the stick rather than to pursue the carrot. As a result, the industrial age created generations of risk-adverse employees who were trained to keep their heads down and to go-along to get-along.

Daniel Pink exposed the fallacy of this approach for the modern era in his 2009 book, Drive. In it, he explained that while extrinsic motivators (carrots and sticks) may be useful for routine, repeatable tasks, they were woefully ineffective for jobs that required cognitive skills, decision-making, creativity, or higher-order thinking.

For these tasks, employees require intrinsic motivators that he defined as autonomy, mastery, and purpose. It is, therefore, not surprising that so many executives find a seemingly unmotivated, unambitious staff. Unless and until organizations remove the extrinsic motivators (particularly the sticks) and replace them with intrinsic motivators, self-organization will remain a pipe dream.

The Intellyx Take
Digital transformation is a big, hairy quagmire of a business challenge. It represents an effort that will likely define the success - or failure - of an executive's career.

As a result, many would-be transformative leaders blink and, rather than pursue true transformation, instead settle for incremental change dressed up in the language of digital transformation.

These executives point to the intractability of their corporate culture, the rigidity of their organizational processes and procedures and the unwillingness of their employees as the reasons they cannot execute real, transformational change by adopting self-organizing models.

While the challenges are real, they are also well understood. It is not a lack of knowledge or capability that stops organizations from adopting these new models. It is merely the lack of courage to create the new reality that embraces innovation, creates space for new approaches and provides their employees the freedom to experiment.

Fully embracing self-organization is a considerable risk, to be sure. But the risk of not acting is even greater and growing every day.

Copyright © Intellyx LLC. Intellyx publishes the Agile Digital Transformation Roadmap poster, advises companies on their digital transformation initiatives, and helps vendors communicate their agility stories. As of the time of writing, none of the organizations mentioned in this article are Intellyx customers.


DXWorldEXPO LLC, the producer of the world's most influential technology conferences and trade shows has announced the conference tracks for CloudEXPO | DXWorldEXPO 2018 New York.

DXWordEXPO New York 2018, colocated with CloudEXPO New York 2018 will be held November 11-13, 2018, in New York City.

Digital Transformation (DX) is a major focus with the introduction of DXWorldEXPO within the program. Successful transformation requires a laser focus on being data-driven and on using all the tools available that enable transformation if they plan to survive over the long term.

A total of 88% of Fortune 500 companies from a generation ago are now out of business. Only 12% still survive. Similar percentages are found throughout enterprises of all sizes.

Register for Full Conference "Gold Pass" ▸ Here (Expo Hall ▸ Here)

Show Prospectus V041818 Here

Speaking Opportunities Here

Sponsorship and Speaking Inquiries: [email protected].

2018 Conference Agenda, Keynotes and 10 Conference Tracks

DXWordEXPO New York 2018 and Cloud Expo New York 2018 agenda present 222 rockstar faculty members, 200 sessions and 22 keynotes and general sessions in 10 distinct conference tracks.

  • Cloud-Native | Serverless
  • DevOpsSummit
  • FinTechEXPO - New York Blockchain Event
  • CloudEXPO - Enterprise Cloud
  • DXWorldEXPO - Digital Transformation (DX)
  • Smart Cities | IoT | IIoT
  • AI | Machine Learning | Cognitive Computing
  • BigData | Analytics
  • The API Enterprise | Mobility | Security
  • Hot Topics | FinTech | WebRTC

Register for Full Conference "Gold Pass" ▸ Here (Expo Hall ▸ Here)

DXWorldEXPO | CloudEXPO 2018 New York cover all of these tools, with the most comprehensive program and with 222 rockstar speakers throughout our industry presenting 22 Keynotes and General Sessions, 200 Breakout Sessions along 10 Tracks, as well as our signature Power Panels. Our Expo Floor brings together the world's leading companies throughout the world of Cloud Computing, DevOps, FinTech, Digital Transformation, and all they entail.

As your enterprise creates a vision and strategy that enables you to create your own unique, long-term success, learning about all the technologies involved is essential. Companies today not only form multi-cloud and hybrid cloud architectures, but create them with built-in cognitive capabilities.

Cloud-Native thinking is now the norm in financial services, manufacturing, telco, healthcare, transportation, energy, media, entertainment, retail and other consumer industries, as well as the public sector.

CloudEXPO is the world's most influential technology event where Cloud Computing was coined over a decade ago and where technology buyers and vendors meet to experience and discuss the big picture of Digital Transformation and all of the strategies, tactics, and tools they need to realize their goals.

FinTech Is Now Part of the DXWorldEXPO | CloudEXPO Program!

Financial enterprises in New York City, London, Singapore, and other world financial capitals are embracing a new generation of smart, automated FinTech that eliminates many cumbersome, slow, and expensive intermediate processes from their businesses.

Accordingly, attendees at the upcoming 22nd CloudEXPO | DXWorldEXPO November 11-13, 2018 in New York City will find fresh new content in two new tracks called:

  • FinTechEXPO
  • New York Blockchain Event

which will incorporate FinTech and Blockchain, as well as machine learning, artificial intelligence and deep learning in these two distinct tracks.

Register for Full Conference "Gold Pass" ▸ Here (Expo Hall ▸ Here)

Show Prospectus V041818 Here

Speaking Opportunities Here

Sponsorship and Speaking Inquiries: [email protected].

FinTech brings efficiency as well as the ability to deliver new services and a much improved customer experience throughout the global financial services industry. FinTech is a natural fit with cloud computing, as new services are quickly developed, deployed, and scaled on public, private, and hybrid clouds.

More than US$20 billion in venture capital is being invested in FinTech this year. DXWorldEXPOCloudEXPO are pleased to bring you the latest FinTech developments as an integral part of our program.

DXWorldEXPO | CloudEXPO are accepting speaking submissions for this new track, so please visit Cloud Computing Expo for the latest information or contact us at [email protected]

Register for Full Conference "Gold Pass" ▸ Here (Expo Hall ▸ Here)

Show Prospectus V041818 Here

Speaking Opportunities Here

Sponsorship and Speaking Inquiries: [email protected].

Download Slide Deck ▸ Here

Only DXWorldEXPO | CloudEXPO bring together all this in a single location:

Attend DXWorldEXPO | CloudEXPO. Build your own custom experience. Learn about the world's latest technologies and chart your course to Digital Transformation.

22nd International DXWorldEXPO | CloudEXPO, taking place November 11-13, 2018, in New York City, will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world.

Register for Full Conference "Gold Pass" ▸ Here (Expo Hall ▸ Here)

Show Prospectus V041818 Here

Speaking Opportunities Here

Sponsorship and Speaking Inquiries: [email protected].

Download Slide Deck: ▸ Here

Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud strategy. Meanwhile, 94% of enterprises are using some form of XaaS - software, platform, and infrastructure as a service.

With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing Cloud strategies, now is the perfect time to attend and learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is on the right path to Digital Transformation.

Every Global 2000 enterprise in the world is now integrating cloud computing in some form into its IT development and operations. Midsize and small businesses are also migrating to the cloud in increasing numbers.

Register for Full Conference "Gold Pass" ▸ Here (Expo Hall ▸ Here)

Show Prospectus V041818 Here

Speaking Opportunities Here

Sponsorship and Speaking Inquiries: [email protected].

Download Slide Deck: ▸ Here

Companies are each developing their unique mix of cloud technologies and services, forming multi-cloud and hybrid cloud architectures and deployments across all major industries. Cloud-driven thinking has become the norm in financial services, manufacturing, telco, healthcare, transportation, energy, media, entertainment, retail and other consumer industries, and the public sector.

Sponsorship Opportunities

DXWorldEXPO | CloudEXPO are the single show where technology buyers and vendors can meet to experience and discus cloud computing and all that it entails. Sponsors of DXWorldEXPO | CloudEXPO will benefit from unmatched branding, profile building and lead generation opportunities through:

  • Featured on-site presentation and ongoing on-demand webcast exposure to a captive audience of industry decision-makers.
  • Showcase exhibition during our new extended dedicated expo hours
  • Breakout Session Priority scheduling for Sponsors that have been guaranteed a 35-minute technical session
  • Online advertising on 4,5 million article pages in SYS-CON's i-Technology Publications
  • Capitalize on our Comprehensive Marketing efforts leading up to the show with print mailings, e-newsletters and extensive online media coverage.
  • Unprecedented PR Coverage: Unmatched editorial coverage on Cloud Computing Journal.
  • Tweetup to over 100,000 plus Twitter followers
  • Press releases sent on major wire services to over 500 industry analysts.

Secrets of Our Most Popular Sponsors and Exhibitors ▸ Here

For more information on sponsorship, exhibit, and keynote opportunities, contact [email protected].

Show Prospectus V041818 Here

Download Slide Deck:Here

Speaking Opportunities

The upcoming 22nd International DXWorldEXPO | CloudEXPO November 11-13, 2018 in New York City, NY announces that its Call For Papers for speaking opportunities is now open.

Secrets of Our Most Popular Faculty Members ▸ Here

Submit your speaking proposal Here or by email [email protected].

Download Slide Deck: ▸ Here

About DXWorldEXPO LLC

DXWorldEXPO LLC is a Lighthouse Point, Florida-based trade show company and the creator of DXWorldEXPODigital Transformation Conference & Expo. The company produces and presents CloudEXPO, DevOpsSummitFinTechEXPO Blockchain Event, the world's most influential conferences and trade shows.

More Stories By Charles Araujo

Charles Araujo is an industry analyst, internationally recognized authority on the Digital Enterprise and author of The Quantum Age of IT: Why Everything You Know About IT is About to Change. As Principal Analyst with Intellyx, he writes, speaks and advises organizations on how to navigate through this time of disruption. He is also the founder of The Institute for Digital Transformation and a sought after keynote speaker. He is a regular contributor to CIO.com and has been quoted or published in Time, InformationWeek, CIO Insight, NetworkWorld Computerworld, USA Today, and Forbes.

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