I had the pleasure to be invited to the Velocity conference in Amsterdam. Around 1000 backend (web)developers & operations engineers gather each year in the RAI for this growing conference. The level of talks is great: lots of highly concentrated information was fired at the audience.
The speakers today offered contagious insights, causing serious idea sprawl. I found myself both inspired and immersed, a pleasant state of mind.
I’d love to share some takeaways from the talk of James Duncan He consults the British Government and voiced his views on how large corporations and governments are inhibited by their size and the need to change this.
Small companies Fail fast, Fail early
Small companies are generally more innovative than large governments or corporates. Generally, due to their level of maturity and lack of capital resources, small companies also live more uncertain lives than the big boys.
This higher level of uncertainty in turn creates a greater need to adapt. Smaller companies need to be agile, be able to reinvent themselves quickly and react very quickly to mistakes – or they die.
This fast iteration cycle creates a very fast learning curve, producing innovative companies.
Too big to fail and learn
Ironically, small companies that do not die often become large corporates or are acquired by them. They tend to lose their innovative edge because the level of uncertainty becomes radically less.
Large corporations and governments have the capital resources to make many mistakes and not learn from them. They are too big to fail and too big to learn.
So Small companies have the advantage to ‘Need’ to adapt and learn quickly. Large companies have more resources but do not have the ‘Need’ to use them efficiently.
This standoff should still leave corporates and governments in the advantage of, in addition to their financial capital, having more human capital at their disposal. More brainpower.
Why then does this not seem to translate to higher levels innovative power?
When joining a new government organisation as an employee, it is not uncommon to have to wait for months before all of the IT resources are allocated. It is not only hard to understand why Corporate IT processes seem so medieval compared to smaller companies, it is especially concerning when precisely these internal processes are vital to leveraging human capital.
Traditional Corporate IT seems less able than smaller companies to adapt to outside changes. The exponential growth of key IT technologies only highten the need to have a responsive IT organisation.
The answer is in organisation. Corporate IT will have to change the way it is organised to remain innovative and competitive. Luckily the past years has brought new ideas in the form of tools and processes have arrived to empower organisations to do just that. I look forward to learning the latest and greatest on these development at this great event!