The Information Technology (IT) organization must be very agile. It must be able to "Morph" or evolve quickly and appropriately as technology evolves. The people of the organization must be committed to the mission and vision of the organization and not overly confined by definitive position statements. They need to understand their requirements and responsibilities; however, they also need the freedom to contribute to the vision in any way they can.
There are many Information Age concepts that are difficult for established organizations to accept:
1) The organization is virtual and therefore, not in a single place. People don't need to go to work, work goes to people. For example, in a new airline named JetBlue Airways, all of the reservation agents work from home during hours that best meet their personal situation. Calls are routed to them through an 800 switch in the same way as they would be if staff were all in the same office building.
2) The office is open 24/7/365; the concept of 8 to 5, Monday to Friday, has no relevance. The concept of "weekend" has no relevance. Staff work at odd hours, without supervision. This is particularly true of programmers and analysts who often are nocturnal and work best in the middle of the night without knowing what time it is. Today when an analyst estimates a task duration of three days, that is not limited to 24 working hours; it could be as much as 48 hours or more.
3) The organization must insure that all staff have a computer at home with access to the organization through the Internet. Major corporations, such as Ford Motors, American Airlines, Delta Airlines and Intel, are sending computers to the homes of staff. The intent is to exploit the efficiencies of the Information Age through staff that are completely familiar, and comfortable, with the vocabulary, concepts, tools and techniques. This is the least expensive human resources program, with the highest return, ever conceived. (Some of these programs have been temporarily suspended while the economy stabilizes. The correction seems to be complete as of this writing. The lesson for the dot.coms and the investors was that business still has to make money, "New Economy" notwithstanding.)
4) There must be incentive, bonus, profit sharing and equity programs in order to attract and retain skilled staff. Staff must have some control over their compensation. They will devote their skill and much of their lives to the vision and mission of the organization. They must receive commensurate compensation or they cannot stay. This includes any level of government that wishes to compete in the I.T. arena. Even government systems designs must include a strategy for global implementation and profit. Highly skilled I.T. professionals, who are mental athletes that can hit global home runs, are beginning to see compensation programs similar to those of other athletes.
( Highly skilled IT professionals are defined as follows:
-They are the best for their assignment in terms of training, experience and peer respect. Their aptitudes seem to be a perfect match for their assignment.
-They are the most productive. They develop products in days that take others weeks or months.
-They produce high quality products at dramatically reduced cost.
-They don't care what day or time it is. Managers need to ensure that they take at least one day a week off.)
5) There is no boss. The concept of someone passing out orders like a boss will be as unknown to Information Age staff as the concept someone sounding like a broken record. (They don't know what a record is either.) Decisions are made through collaboration. No-one has to tell these people to go to work, they will, more likely, need some one to tell them to stop. There is, however, a "Quarterback" who leads by the consent of those that are lead. These people are part of a team and they accept leadership because they trust the leader. This requires Information Age leadership skills that inspire the team through insight, vision, coaching, trust and complete integrity. This has little to do with being a "boss". It must be emphasized that the I.T. organization of today will not survive without the components noted above, particularly, trust because there is too much demand for skilled staff. Therefore, they must bond to their organization or they move on.
In summary, the leader generally is the visionary. The others are confident that he knows where to go and how to get there. The organization is synergistic where information and skills are shared; each performs where he has greatest aptitude and the whole is much greater than the sum of the parts. It is uncommon for staff to be in the same place at the same time; they work through video conferencing which is free. Every machine is a server and they log-on to collaborate on the development of anything from anywhere at anytime. Everyone is required to take at least one day each week off; beyond that, there are no rules; they can work as much as they want from anywhere they want.
Government and large private organizations will have difficulty with these concepts. The difficulty results from inflexibility which is present in any large, established organization. Big organizations must work through decisions made in advance and documented in manuals, instructions, procedures, standards, etc. The inability to quickly adapt or "morph" to changing requirements, expectations and exceptions, makes it difficult, but not impossible, for large established organizations to stay with the pace of the Information Age. It is not impossible, because large organizations can reinvent themselves; IBM is a good example.