We are now up to chapter 7 of “Good to Great” with the chapter title of “Technology Accelerators”. Most good companies understand that they need technology to progress. Great companies realize that not all technology is useful and that technology is more of an aid than a primary mover. Adoption of technology should always be bound by the hedgehog concept.
Most young companies believe that it is possible to jump up the ladder of execution by relying on technology to pull them upwards. Heavy investments are made in making sure that the company is using all the latest popular tools. Unfortunately, unfocused application of technology only leads to wasted time and money.
It is easy to panic and overreact about being left behind. This comes back to the fox and the hedgehog idea. A fox is going to search for many solutions without really understanding what the problem really is. The hedgehog is going to examine the problem and determine with care what should be tried. Steady wins the race again.
No where is this more obvious than the web. During the time around 2000, the hype factor was in overdrive. Basically it was implied that anyone on the Internet was going to earn a bucket load of money. As we can clearly see, this is not true. If it was, this blog would have earned me a great fortune by now :). Seriously, it is dangerous to jump into technology fads without understanding the true value of the technology. This is true in every aspect of technology.
The funny thing is that hedgehog companies can actually pioneer technology to solve their biggest problems. With focus and determination, the great company can create new technologies that will best suit their purposes. A good company is more likely to just react and participate.
When you stop worrying so much about the competitors and do what you passionately do the best, you can stop looking to your competitors as threats and stop using their models to do your business.
“Good to Great” makes a great point that technology is an accelerator and not a creator of momentum. You cannot count on technology to do your work for you. You are going to need to think and build the hedgehog concept on your own. Technology should not be the master of your policies but rather a tool to help you get where you need to go.
As important as technology seems, it is still the business decisions that make the biggest impact on the company. Executives in great companies rarely point to technology as being what made them great. However, it is sometimes conceded that technology helped them become greater.
One way to view this is to think like an artist. Does technology make for a better artist? Can technology make a good artist into a great one? The answer, in most cases, would be no. The point is that the artist has his or her own hedgehog thinking in place and this usually translates to using mediums (paint, sculpture, fabrics) to build what is already in their minds. The artist already knows the vision of what they want to do and only need technology to express this.
The same is true for companies. Without that inner vision the technology is largely wasted. Also of note is that medium of business requires cognition which cannot be expressed by technology alone.
From a Citrix point of view, we are very heavily invested in our technology. Because of this it is often hard to realize the value of thought and of the hedgehog concept. It clearly makes sense to be the best at what you can do. It also makes sense that you need the passion and the ability to find the right monetary measure of profit. Technology, as great as it is, is nothing against the passion of a hedgehog company.
The reason is simple. A hedgehog company has a vision of where it is going and what it is best at and will create technologies as needed as well as extensively using matching technologies. It is going to make itself great simply because it sees beyond good and can do the work to get there.
Technology can help, but it is not going to make you great by itself.
Do you agree?