Weblogic Authors: Yeshim Deniz, Elizabeth White, Michael Meiner, Michael Bushong, Avi Rosenthal


How to Sabotage Your Digital Initiative

We’re not trying to help you sabotage your organization. We’re here to help you identify sabotage and deal with the saboteurs

"Never permit short-cuts to be taken in order to expedite decisions."

"When possible, refer all matters to committees.... Attempt to make the committees as large as possible - never less than five."

"Advocate ‘caution.' Be ‘reasonable' ... and avoid haste which might result in embarrassments or difficulties later on."

"Apply all regulations to the last letter."

Advice for being a successful member of a large organization? Section 3.4.7 of your company's employee orientation manual perhaps? Not on your life - these instructions come directly from the CIA's World War II-era Simple Sabotage Field Manual.

Sabotaging the efforts of a large organization is easier than you might think, if simply advocating caution might fall into the category of sabotage. It's no wonder, then, that sabotaging your digital effort is dead simple.

Four Questions of Digital Sabotage
In spite of its admittedly clickbaitish title, this Cortex isn't an update of the CIA Manual for the digital age. We're not trying to help you sabotage your organization, after all. On the contrary: we're here to help you identify such sabotage and deal with the saboteurs.

As a result, there are actually four questions you must answer: Why would someone want to sabotage your digital initiative? Who would do such a thing? How would they do it? And most importantly, what can you to do stop them?

The first two questions - why and who - go hand in hand. Digital initiatives are by their very nature transformative, and such comprehensive change is necessarily threatening to many individuals in your organization.

Look, therefore, for people who have placed large bets on maintaining the status quo. Change is difficult for everyone, but it's especially threatening for certain individuals in certain roles. Here are some examples:

The ‘post-learning' professional. Most techies enjoy the fact that technology is always in flux, and thus there is always more to learn. As a result, they dedicate much of their time to learning new things that result from ongoing change.

However, some people - many in technical areas, but some not - do not feel that way. They're paid well because they're experts in a typically legacy technology, and the last thing they want to do is have to learn something new before they retire.

If an employee's career depends upon your organization keeping some old asset up and running, they may be especially threatened by an initiative that might rock their boat.

The middle manager. As traditional hierarchical organizations grow, they add layer upon layer of management in order to scale. Digital transformation, in contrast, breaks down organizational silos, thus flattening organizations as they seek to address customer needs end-to-end.

On the short end of the stick: the layers of middle management in between the contributors at the bottom and the executives at the top. The more digital an enterprise becomes, the fewer middle managers it'll need.

Empire builders. Since the big-picture goal of digital transformation is to improve the organization's focus on its customers and thus its competitiveness overall, you'd think that the executives in charge of running said organization would be on board. Generally speaking, most are - but there are notable exceptions.

In some organizations, executives measure their relative power and worth compared to their colleagues by how many people report to them - a common affliction of hierarchical organizations we call empire building.

The empire builders in your enterprise are particularly likely to sabotage your digital efforts, for the same reason middle managers are, in spite of the fact that executives should be focused on strategic priorities.

Common Sabotage Techniques
Any of our likely saboteurs might try one or more of the CIA's favored techniques, to be sure. However, it may be difficult to discern whether that time-destroying committee meeting or those rigid governance policies are intentional acts of sabotage. For many organizations, after all, such occurrences are business as usual.

The common theme across the techniques of our digital saboteurs is some kind of ‘play it safe' action or opinion. Every organization is risk adverse to some extent, so the saboteur will take this routine and important risk aversion and use it as a club to dissuade colleagues from moving forward with any effort that threatens the saboteur.

And yet, the world has changed. Digital transformation is now an imperative for so many enterprises because the risks inherent in not transforming are greater than the risks of transforming. Saboteurs will do anything they can to keep decision makers in their midst from realizing this fundamental truth.

One of the most common of these sabotage techniques is following Gartner's advice on bimodal IT. Gartner recommends separating slow, ‘traditional' IT from faster moving digital efforts - a recipe for digital failure.

Saboteurs realize, however, that Gartner's advice appears to favor the lower risk option, as it's relatively easy to convince people that transforming traditional IT is the high-risk alternative.

As a result, saboteurs are only too happy to leverage the ‘argument from authority' fallacy (aka ‘Gartner says it, so it must be right') to sabotage their organization's digital initiatives.

The Intellyx Take: How to Stop the Digital Saboteur
The CIA was only too aware that the Gestapo would shoot saboteurs on sight. Fortunately, we don't have to go quite so far today - but in some situations, you must be willing to remove saboteurs from your organization. Whether you fire them or simply encourage them to depart is up to you, but organizational change as fundamental as digital transformation always requires some changing of the guard.

In the more general situation, fortunately, empowering the saboteur - or potential saboteur - is the most effective solution. This counterintuitive approach wouldn't work with someone acting out of malice, of course. But in most cases, the individual feels helpless to deal with the changes coming their way, but will rise to the occasion given the ability to take some control and make a positive change.

For example, solving the bimodal IT problem requires a carefully thought out plan for transforming traditional IT, which is neither a simplistic rip-and-replace nor a Gartneresque let-slow-go-slow.

To craft such a plan, solicit the cooperation of your ‘post-learning' professionals as well as your middle managers by inviting them to organize themselves into task forces that must come up with appropriate transformation strategies.

This self-organization, in fact, is the key to success with digital transformation generally - not simply at the individual team level, but more broadly across the enterprise as it seeks to break down the organizational silos that impede its ability to serve its customers.

Some individuals will resist getting with the program. A few will actually seek to sabotage the organization's attempts to move to a self-organizational model. But as today's enterprises figure out the best ways to empower their employees within the context of their digital initiatives, employee satisfaction and productivity are bound to improve - thus leading to better business outcomes overall.

Copyright © Intellyx LLC. Intellyx publishes the Agile Digital Transformation Roadmap poster, advises companies on their digital transformation initiatives, and helps vendors communicate their agility stories. As of the time of writing, none of the organizations mentioned in this article are Intellyx customers.

More Stories By Jason Bloomberg

Jason Bloomberg is a leading IT industry analyst, Forbes contributor, keynote speaker, and globally recognized expert on multiple disruptive trends in enterprise technology and digital transformation. He is ranked #5 on Onalytica’s list of top Digital Transformation influencers for 2018 and #15 on Jax’s list of top DevOps influencers for 2017, the only person to appear on both lists.

As founder and president of Agile Digital Transformation analyst firm Intellyx, he advises, writes, and speaks on a diverse set of topics, including digital transformation, artificial intelligence, cloud computing, devops, big data/analytics, cybersecurity, blockchain/bitcoin/cryptocurrency, no-code/low-code platforms and tools, organizational transformation, internet of things, enterprise architecture, SD-WAN/SDX, mainframes, hybrid IT, and legacy transformation, among other topics.

Mr. Bloomberg’s articles in Forbes are often viewed by more than 100,000 readers. During his career, he has published over 1,200 articles (over 200 for Forbes alone), spoken at over 400 conferences and webinars, and he has been quoted in the press and blogosphere over 2,000 times.

Mr. Bloomberg is the author or coauthor of four books: The Agile Architecture Revolution (Wiley, 2013), Service Orient or Be Doomed! How Service Orientation Will Change Your Business (Wiley, 2006), XML and Web Services Unleashed (SAMS Publishing, 2002), and Web Page Scripting Techniques (Hayden Books, 1996). His next book, Agile Digital Transformation, is due within the next year.

At SOA-focused industry analyst firm ZapThink from 2001 to 2013, Mr. Bloomberg created and delivered the Licensed ZapThink Architect (LZA) Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA) course and associated credential, certifying over 1,700 professionals worldwide. He is one of the original Managing Partners of ZapThink LLC, which was acquired by Dovel Technologies in 2011.

Prior to ZapThink, Mr. Bloomberg built a diverse background in eBusiness technology management and industry analysis, including serving as a senior analyst in IDC’s eBusiness Advisory group, as well as holding eBusiness management positions at USWeb/CKS (later marchFIRST) and WaveBend Solutions (now Hitachi Consulting), and several software and web development positions.

@ThingsExpo Stories
Business professionals no longer wonder if they'll migrate to the cloud; it's now a matter of when. The cloud environment has proved to be a major force in transitioning to an agile business model that enables quick decisions and fast implementation that solidify customer relationships. And when the cloud is combined with the power of cognitive computing, it drives innovation and transformation that achieves astounding competitive advantage.
As IoT continues to increase momentum, so does the associated risk. Secure Device Lifecycle Management (DLM) is ranked as one of the most important technology areas of IoT. Driving this trend is the realization that secure support for IoT devices provides companies the ability to deliver high-quality, reliable, secure offerings faster, create new revenue streams, and reduce support costs, all while building a competitive advantage in their markets. In this session, we will use customer use cases...
Digital Transformation: Preparing Cloud & IoT Security for the Age of Artificial Intelligence. As automation and artificial intelligence (AI) power solution development and delivery, many businesses need to build backend cloud capabilities. Well-poised organizations, marketing smart devices with AI and BlockChain capabilities prepare to refine compliance and regulatory capabilities in 2018. Volumes of health, financial, technical and privacy data, along with tightening compliance requirements by...
The best way to leverage your Cloud Expo presence as a sponsor and exhibitor is to plan your news announcements around our events. The press covering Cloud Expo and @ThingsExpo will have access to these releases and will amplify your news announcements. More than two dozen Cloud companies either set deals at our shows or have announced their mergers and acquisitions at Cloud Expo. Product announcements during our show provide your company with the most reach through our targeted audiences.
DevOpsSummit New York 2018, colocated with CloudEXPO | DXWorldEXPO New York 2018 will be held November 11-13, 2018, in New York City. Digital Transformation (DX) is a major focus with the introduction of DXWorldEXPO within the program. Successful transformation requires a laser focus on being data-driven and on using all the tools available that enable transformation if they plan to survive over the long term. A total of 88% of Fortune 500 companies from a generation ago are now out of bus...
With 10 simultaneous tracks, keynotes, general sessions and targeted breakout classes, @CloudEXPO and DXWorldEXPO are two of the most important technology events of the year. Since its launch over eight years ago, @CloudEXPO and DXWorldEXPO have presented a rock star faculty as well as showcased hundreds of sponsors and exhibitors! In this blog post, we provide 7 tips on how, as part of our world-class faculty, you can deliver one of the most popular sessions at our events. But before reading...
DXWordEXPO New York 2018, colocated with CloudEXPO New York 2018 will be held November 11-13, 2018, in New York City and will bring together Cloud Computing, FinTech and Blockchain, Digital Transformation, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, AI, Machine Learning and WebRTC to one location.
DXWorldEXPO LLC announced today that ICOHOLDER named "Media Sponsor" of Miami Blockchain Event by FinTechEXPO. ICOHOLDER give you detailed information and help the community to invest in the trusty projects. Miami Blockchain Event by FinTechEXPO has opened its Call for Papers. The two-day event will present 20 top Blockchain experts. All speaking inquiries which covers the following information can be submitted by email to [email protected] Miami Blockchain Event by FinTechEXPO also offers s...
DXWorldEXPO | CloudEXPO are the world's most influential, independent events where Cloud Computing was coined and where technology buyers and vendors meet to experience and discuss the big picture of Digital Transformation and all of the strategies, tactics, and tools they need to realize their goals. Sponsors of DXWorldEXPO | CloudEXPO benefit from unmatched branding, profile building and lead generation opportunities.
Dion Hinchcliffe is an internationally recognized digital expert, bestselling book author, frequent keynote speaker, analyst, futurist, and transformation expert based in Washington, DC. He is currently Chief Strategy Officer at the industry-leading digital strategy and online community solutions firm, 7Summits.
Digital Transformation and Disruption, Amazon Style - What You Can Learn. Chris Kocher is a co-founder of Grey Heron, a management and strategic marketing consulting firm. He has 25+ years in both strategic and hands-on operating experience helping executives and investors build revenues and shareholder value. He has consulted with over 130 companies on innovating with new business models, product strategies and monetization. Chris has held management positions at HP and Symantec in addition to ...
Cloud-enabled transformation has evolved from cost saving measure to business innovation strategy -- one that combines the cloud with cognitive capabilities to drive market disruption. Learn how you can achieve the insight and agility you need to gain a competitive advantage. Industry-acclaimed CTO and cloud expert, Shankar Kalyana presents. Only the most exceptional IBMers are appointed with the rare distinction of IBM Fellow, the highest technical honor in the company. Shankar has also receive...
Enterprises have taken advantage of IoT to achieve important revenue and cost advantages. What is less apparent is how incumbent enterprises operating at scale have, following success with IoT, built analytic, operations management and software development capabilities - ranging from autonomous vehicles to manageable robotics installations. They have embraced these capabilities as if they were Silicon Valley startups.
Poor data quality and analytics drive down business value. In fact, Gartner estimated that the average financial impact of poor data quality on organizations is $9.7 million per year. But bad data is much more than a cost center. By eroding trust in information, analytics and the business decisions based on these, it is a serious impediment to digital transformation.
The standardization of container runtimes and images has sparked the creation of an almost overwhelming number of new open source projects that build on and otherwise work with these specifications. Of course, there's Kubernetes, which orchestrates and manages collections of containers. It was one of the first and best-known examples of projects that make containers truly useful for production use. However, more recently, the container ecosystem has truly exploded. A service mesh like Istio addr...
Predicting the future has never been more challenging - not because of the lack of data but because of the flood of ungoverned and risk laden information. Microsoft states that 2.5 exabytes of data are created every day. Expectations and reliance on data are being pushed to the limits, as demands around hybrid options continue to grow.
The IoT Will Grow: In what might be the most obvious prediction of the decade, the IoT will continue to expand next year, with more and more devices coming online every single day. What isn’t so obvious about this prediction: where that growth will occur. The retail, healthcare, and industrial/supply chain industries will likely see the greatest growth. Forrester Research has predicted the IoT will become “the backbone” of customer value as it continues to grow. It is no surprise that retail is ...
Andrew Keys is Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise. He comes to ConsenSys Enterprise with capital markets, technology and entrepreneurial experience. Previously, he worked for UBS investment bank in equities analysis. Later, he was responsible for the creation and distribution of life settlement products to hedge funds and investment banks. After, he co-founded a revenue cycle management company where he learned about Bitcoin and eventually Ethereal. Andrew's role at ConsenSys Enterprise is a mul...
DXWorldEXPO LLC announced today that "Miami Blockchain Event by FinTechEXPO" has announced that its Call for Papers is now open. The two-day event will present 20 top Blockchain experts. All speaking inquiries which covers the following information can be submitted by email to [email protected] Financial enterprises in New York City, London, Singapore, and other world financial capitals are embracing a new generation of smart, automated FinTech that eliminates many cumbersome, slow, and expe...
Cloud Expo | DXWorld Expo have announced the conference tracks for Cloud Expo 2018. Cloud Expo will be held June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, and November 6-8, 2018, at the Santa Clara Convention Center, Santa Clara, CA. Digital Transformation (DX) is a major focus with the introduction of DX Expo within the program. Successful transformation requires a laser focus on being data-driven and on using all the tools available that enable transformation if they plan to survive ov...