Philip Sheldrake

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Work IT: bring-you-and-your-own-everything

your-own-everything

First published to Gigaom Research.

Cast your mind back a decade or more. Did you request specific hardware from your company’s IT team? If so, you started a trend that continues to play out to this day, and will continue to its logical and exciting conclusion.

You may or may not have been successful in your request given IT’s historic intransigence, but nowadays many of us expect to rock up to work with the laptop and tablet and smartphone of our choosing – often our own – and expect the IT team’s full accommodation.

We’re also bringing our own applications. Non-IT staff have adopted software-as-a-service without necessarily going through their IT colleagues. Yammer, Trello and Slack for example. Perhaps Google Docs crept in without organization-wide adoption of Google for Work. Meeting schedulers. Note-takers. Expense trackers. Skype. Dropbox. Instagram. The list is as long as the kind of things you need to get done.

It’s useful to think of this in terms of Enterprise IT and Work IT. The enterprise owns Enterprise IT whereas the worker owns Work IT. In simple terms, Enterprise IT is focused on the organization, Work IT on organizing. Enterprise IT is top-down with the starting position of locking everything down, whereas Work IT is bottom-up, thriving by facilitating sharing and openness. Read more

The quantified self, the quantified organization, and the organized self

quantified org self

The diagram here portrays where I'm going with this post, so let's dive in.

The quantified self

The current Wikipedia entry for quantified self (QS) describes it as "a movement to incorporate technology into data acquisition on aspects of a person's daily life in terms of inputs (e.g. food consumed, quality of surrounding air), states (e.g. mood, arousal, blood oxygen levels), and performance (mental and physical)."

And it doesn't stop at mere data acquisition of course; as the strapline for a major QS community puts it, we're looking at self knowledge through numbers. Adriana Lukas, founder and organiser at London Quantified Self Group, proselytizes self-managed QS, a future in which “expertise is supplied rather than outsourced”, where each of us acquires “agency as sense-maker”.

That's certainly a powerful and possibly quite natural vision, and one I wholeheartedly embrace. Yet it's also counter to the branded data siloes many a purveyor of QS gadgetry would, it seems, have one locked into. Adriana employs a turn of phrase, which may well be riffing off Doc Searls:

We can’t treat individuals as data cows to be milked for the data bucket.

The quantified organization

Lee Bryant, founder of PostShift, describes their take on 'quantified organization':

... a framework of organisational health measures, informed by theory and company goals, that can guide ongoing change in an agile, iterative way and assess the success or failure of change actions against a desired future operating state.

Read more

The hi:project, social business and Flat Army

Dan Pontefract Flat Army and the hi:project
I help organisations work better, so how on Earth is that connected to the hi:project? Given I dedicate not a small fraction of my time to this non-profit endeavour, I'm asked on occasion to explain how the two are related.

The 'HI' of the hi:project stands for human interface. It's our way of describing the technology we think should and will largely supplant the user interface, the UI. Here's how I've begun to explain it of late ...

When we approach digital, we have a natural propensity to digitize the pre-digital; after all, that is all we know. That's how we ended up sticking an 'e' in front of mail for example, and went from having desktops, files and folders to, well, desktops, files and folders.

Yet digital has unprecedented qualities – it just takes us a while to discover and exploit them. It's only with the passing of decades for example that organisations can now explore alternatives to email. And filing stuff looks increasingly anachronistic with the power of near-instant search at our fingertips.

In the same way, the UI is attached to the digital machine / service today because pre-digital physical machines had a physical interface. Read more