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Don’t become a software business, become a learning organization

Watts S. Humphrey famously said, “every business is a software business.” Unfortunately, this statement has been misconstrued by well-meaning IT practitioners to demand primacy in the organization’s strategy, budgeting, and focus. But nothing could be more dysfunctional than letting technology lead your business.

A business exists to serve customers, and nothing else matters. Customers don’t care about anything “behind the curtain,” only the elements of your business with which they interact.

Here it is laid out in a convenient table:

Customers don’t care about:Customers do care about:
The tools you use while creating itThe tools they use to consume it
The clothing you wear while building itThe clothing you wear while interacting with them
The corporate mission statementThe company’s impact on their values
How easy it is to create itHow easy it is to consume it
Your share priceHow well you will serve them in the future

Do customers care what technology you use? No. The technology you use is just a tool to create the product/service.

Stop letting your technology organizations lead with technology. Instead, transform your entire organization—including the technology functions—into a learning organization. A learning organization rapidly learns about:

  • the customer
  • the problem domain
  • the tools they must wield to fill the customer’s need.

What are the elements of a successful learning organization? Watch this space for my next article.

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