How Do You Pivot? Why this One GigaOm Article Matters
How do you pivot? How do you change? Do you change? Business leaders, those forecasting and driving strategy, those dubbed “change agents” inside an enterprise have an increasingly tough task. Often they are handed the reigns to steer a company in some new direction, but they battle a mine-field of internal opposition that makes the act of change, very, very difficult. A simple but effective graphic – one that was actually featured in the social media focused post The Social Media Minefield: 5 Factors Blocking Your Success - does a nice job of showcasing common roadblocks that get in the way of you getting to your desired state.
With the understanding that in a traditional enterprise it is far easier to keep things the same, we’d like to turn your focus to a very recent article from GigaOm that highlights the inevitability that is change.
For any programmer or project manager we encourage you to read the entire article here. Beyond this being an intriguing new language full of promise and purpose it remains of course unknown if Halide will get the kind of uptake needed for enterprises to take notice. But that doesn’t really matter because this is just an example of what is consistently taking place in the greater landscape of technology. Every single day, in fact every single moment of every single day, there are programmers from across the globe tinkering, refining, re-inventing and producing iterations, and sometimes all together brand new software languages. The entire industry is in a constant state of continuous innovation. Few will hit, most will miss, and some new advances will even change the world. But where should your focus be as the leader or aspiring leader of an enterprise? Should you chase these new technology languages? How would you chase them if you could?
Utilizing Your Community to Shepherd Change
Thinking about the very concepts of accessing a community might help you through these tough questions. There are at least three circumstances we have experienced at TopCoder that showcase how and why our clients were able to pivot faster to a “new” language via the TopCoder Community.
What’s New to You, is Not to Them
We have found, through practice, experimentation, failure and successes, that often the skills needed to innovate on top of a new software language or framework already exist within our community. When this is the case – and most often it is – the focus completely shifts from “chasing” the talent needed for success and instead keys-in on shaping a highly defined challenge or problem in such a way that effectively communicates how the new language will be utilized. In short, the talent in that specific language already exists, it was only a matter of drawing it out properly.
Ramping-Up the True New, Faster
Surely, there are times when a “brand new” language is being introduced to our community and we recognize that the specialized talent to create value from a certain language might not yet exist. It’s “too new” or for whatever reason, the very vast majority of the members have not experienced the tech as of yet. But even then, it’s a matter of transferring what is the potential value of the community,and shepherding it to a kinetic state of value creation. In short, we have a processes of introducing newer languages to our members and taking certain actions to help ensure quality coders join the competitions focused on this language. In the past we have even set-up competitions that are specifically labeled as training competitions. We alert the community to the fact that a pipeline of work in a certain language is coming, and as a first step, we set up competitions that allow the individuals within, to hone their skills.
Not New, Just Out of Bandwidth
A recent block of TopCoder competitions for a particular client focused on the Sencha Touch 2 mobile framework. Calling Sencha Touch “brand new” would be inaccurate. It is certainly newer, but it is not freshly released like the aforementioned MIT visible web language, Halide. But for our client, the challenge was very real. They had worked with the Sencha framework in the past and wanted to create new applications based on it. However, even though this company is in the Fortune 100, internally, they had only one individual with solid Sencha experience. In other words, their bandwidth to create value in this framework was severely limited. Via TopCoder competitions, they got the right talent to their challenges which resulted in innovative Sencha Touch 2 solutions. The client had no need to source and train individuals or take on consultants. Instead, via the TopCoder Platform, they launched a series of competitions and the process saved them time and money, while delivering outstanding outputs.
The GigaOm article which triggered this post matters. How you as an enterprise pivot matters! That GigaOm story is not uncommon. In fact, it is the norm in technology and software. When considering Open Innovation and the utilization of a community, think of the flexibility this approach can provide your enterprise. Whether you’d like to experiment with a new framework or simply need to address a traditional bandwidth concern in a specific language, development via community can at least be part of your solution.
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image credit: gigaom.com, businessesgrow.com, wired.com,