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Gartner Symposium/ITxpo 2014: Orchestrating Change

What Can Music (and Fighter Jets) Teach Us about Big Change?

Roger Hughlett's avatar

By: Roger Hughlett

October 10, 2014 | EventsCase Management/BPMAnalystsSocial BPM

It is not always the composer or even the conductor who has the most influence over how a piece of music reaches the audience attending the concert or listening to a recorded performance. The real power over how a particular piece of music makes its way into the hearts and minds of a listener is with the orchestrator.

This individual, in most instances, decides exactly how a composition is presented. He or she she’s playing the instruments. They didn’t write the piece of music. But they interpret the composition before it is placed in the hands of the conductor and the musicians. The orchestrator is the artistic director of sorts, and the person who is most responsible for bringing the music to life.

Orchestrating Big Change

It is this power to change and to affect change within an operation – from symphony to enterprise – that should inspire IT decision makers to think of themselves as the orchestrator or musical arranger of the daily concerts that are their business operations.

As a trained musician with a passion for music and technology, Janelle B. Hill, VP Distinguished Analyst for Gartner, walked CIOs and other IT professionals through this musical analogy recently during an informative session at Gartner Symposium/ITxpo in Florida.

In her presentation -- “The Digital Disruption: Orchestrating Big Change” – Hill makes a compelling case that CIOs should view themselves as the orchestrators of their respective organizations in order to best affect big change.

"You can be the orchestrator,” Hill said. “You can interpret the business strategy. Be part of that strategy, and change how you behave and act in order to be a change agent within the business and indirectly influence your company’s success at digital business without being a designated leader."

I love this idea – and it grows on me more and more each day -- for its simplicity as well as its scope.

It also drives home the idea that in order to lead change, you need to first start with yourself.

"A big change needs to occur within us," Hill told the audience. “We must make changes in order to succeed in digital business."

The Shift to Digital Business

Why is this so very important to us all?

"By 2017, 70 percent of successful Digital Business models will rely on deliberately unstable processes designed to shift as customer needs shift," according to Gartner. (Hill presented this research nugget and promised that more details around it will be forthcoming from herself and colleagues at Gartner.)

The fact is, change is unavoidable for nearly every organization, business, government agency or Little League team for that matter.

"If change is fluid and change is the new normal, then business operations will be significantly impacted," Hill said.

And now…Fighter Jets

Being ready for this change and the impending impact brings us to fighter jets.

The F-16 Fighting Falcon was the first jet designed specifically to be unstable in order to operate at the optimal level. Because the flying and fighting conditions are so unpredictable and unstable and inhospitable, the aircraft needs to be able to adapt and accept all sorts of variables in order to ensure the best possible outcome.

Hill and other analysts encourage organizations to start thinking about and designing Case Management and Business Process Management (BPM) systems around unstable processes. As we’ve written many times before on this blog, most of what businesses do today are unpredictable and require dynamic systems in order to achieve the best possible outcomes.

Investigations, claims management, appeals management, and a host of other business operations need to be unstable because there is no direct path from the opening or beginning of a case to the final outcome.

Let Experts be Experts

For years in BPM we have been turning people into robots. I encourage you to take advantage of this Digital Humanism, and allow people, especially your knowledge workers to work with way that works best for them.

Instead of trying to flow-chart out the entire process, anticipating every possible situation where things could be different and trying to establish the standard procedure on how to deal with that difference… Let people figure it out. Trust your employees to do the right thing leave the white space in the design to allow your employees to use their knowledge

About the Author

Roger Hughlett was a member of the Marketing Team with MicroPact from 2013 - 2015.