Digital Dinosaurs, Part III – 11 Disruptive Mutations


Digital Dinosaurs, Part III – 11 Disruptive Mutations

This is the third and final part of the Digital Dinosaurs Trilogy. These six Disruptive Conditions were presented last week:

1. IT Impact Disorder

2. Bimodal Blindness

3. Cloud Allergy

4. Speed Apnea

5. TouRFPette Syndrome

6. PMOeumonia.


Here are the final five Disruptive Conditions – these go to eleven:

7. ITILinnitus

Corporations suffering from ITILinnitus have severe delusions about their way of running ITIL. These corporations are more or less slowing down or even disabling reasonable business IT initiatives.

As we know, ITIL includes various practices for handling IT Service related processes. A severe condition named ITILinnitus changes the way ITIL is considered and governed. Corporations suffering from ITILinnitus hear in their ears that ITIL is the only and ultimate solution for all possible issues facing IT and consider it as “standard.”  However, ITILinnitus usually means that ITIL processes are only implemented for two functions, regardless of the ITIL version or the capability of the ITSM personnel:

1) A brute-force ticket factory, and

2) A semi-decent mechanism for converting business requirements into raw change requests.

A common ITILinnitus symptom is that the infected IT Service stakeholders very often state that “we are running standard ITIL.” In terminal cases, “we are running standard ITIL” is an answer to each question, even if it is non-ITIL or even non-IT related.

Symptoms of Cloud Allergy (#3) are often found in corporations suffering from ITILinnitus, which causes the upgrade cycles of SaaS/PaaS services clash with the corporate Release Calendar. In this case, corporations lack actual and beneficial Release Management, and Releases are thrown into the release calendar just for the sake of getting determined dates in there.


8. Exploration Phobia

Corporations that have this Phobia do not value nor see any point in Data, API, etc. exploration. “Exploration is only done in adventure movies!”

Opening the Corporation up by allowing exploration of Data, API’s and other entities has lots of benefits. It enables new kind of thinking and experimenting and can even cure the Tinkering Thrombosis (#10) or at least make its symptoms milder.

Exploration has lots of advantages; it allows working with real-life data and requirements. Working with real-life challenges can create the right kind of stressors that are usually needed for creating innovations – based on actual business problems.

One the latest trends in corporate HR are self-organizing teams. However, self-organizing won’t function well or necessarily not at all if the employees don’t have open access to all necessary information. Self-organizing teams need to explore the corporation.


9. Technical Debt Constipation

Technical Debt is one of the most overlooked subjects in corporate IT. Corporations having this disease do not understand or govern Technical Debt, which can halt or even stop business development.

Corporations suffering from Technical Debt Constipation do not necessarily even understand that hey are generating technical debt. Then again, Technical Debt Constipation is one of the easiest conditions to cure if the Corporation is willing to change. It’s like following a new and healthier diet: burn more fat than you consume.

The negative side of Technical Debt is that it is really debt, and you have to – sooner or later – start paying the interest. If the corporation is creating more Technical Debt each day, getting into really Greasy debt conditions, the EU or IMF will not bail out! Usually, this means that choices have to be made e.g. between hiring new talent vs. keeping legacy system specialist for keeping the lights on.

Technical Debt Constipation can be very severe if the corporation is also suffering from ITILinnitus (#7) because the processes are blind to actual development tasks and their quality.


10. Tinkering Thrombosis

Tinkering Thrombosis is a condition in which the Corporation sees no value in Tinkering that is about experimenting new ideas and innovations by failing fast and learning.

Even though tinkering is close to exploration, they are two different things. Exploration is the predecessor for tinkering: it’s pretty hard to tinker with closed systems and no access to real-life data. In this sense, Exploration Phobia (#8) and Tinkering Thrombosis cannot co-exist, and corporations who are suffering from the Exploration Phobia usually end up having Tinkering Thrombosis also.

A classic tinkering example: even though a lot of systematic academic research for the flight had been done towards the end of the 19th century, self-taught bicycle shop tinkerers – the Wright brothers – were first in flight. And, to mention a few other minor gadgets: lasers, computers, and the Internet were all produced by tinkering. As it happens, none of them ended up doing what their inventors intended them to do.

Decentralized experimentation usually outperforms directed research. This concerns corporations as well: innovation cannot be “forced”. This is why corporations should embrace and encourage tinkering-spirit to boost creativity and innovations. If the corporation does not have the culture and capabilities for tinkering, it usually also causes TouRFPette Syndrome (#5) because there are no other means for new development than sending RFP’s.


11. Political Correctness (PC) Psychosis

This severe condition embraces a corporate culture in which people should be careful not to use language or behave in a way that could offend anyone in any way. Any idea, act, speech or opinion that is against the status quo is most likely seen as offensive in this PC Psychosis.

One very sad real life example of a politically correct and autocratic culture is the Korean Air Cargo Flight 8509. The pilots did not acknowledge alerts and failed to communicate critical findings between each other – as the company tradition encouraged.

PC Psychosis means that nothing can be challenged within a corporation. The ill culture is a breeding ground for statements such as

Corporations that are suffering from the PC Psychosis can have all kinds of obscure policies that are of unknown origin, but people keep on following them. PC Psychosis corporations might favor nepotism-like staffing, make lists of personae non-gratae, see open-mindedness as a threat and consider asking difficult questions as pure hate speech. PC Psychosis makes failing – failing fast – impossible because failing cannot happen, and it is out of the question. It disables innovation in general.

All the other conditions (from #1 to #10) can be eventually cured, even ITILinnitus unless the corporation is not suffering from the PC Psychosis. However, curing these conditions takes an open-minded and honest effort. These conditions will not be cured by charlatans administrating yet another new ICT Standard and shooting them with COBIT Cannons. Corporations who want to get rid of these conditions need to upgrade their internal capabilities and have good, no superior partners to assist them.

If the corporation is suffering from the PC Psychosis and any given number of other conditions on this list, the game will most likely be over, and it will be dinosaur time! PC Psychosis is by far the worst of these conditions and requires drastic and significant efforts to cure. It is worth mentioning that embracing non-PC culture does not mean being rude, impolite or unprofessional. Sometimes a major crash is the only thing able to wake up the corporation from the psychosis. Korean Air woke up in 1999 and has not had a single fatal crash since.


From Fragile to Antifragile

In the end, many or even all of the features of adaptability deal with the concept of fragility and its counter-side, Antifragile IT. If you, dear reader, have a hard time coping with my made-up corporate medical conditions, please try considering your organization in terms of antifragility. All of the abovementioned 11 conditions represent fragility. Curing them needs antifragility.

I have a gut feeling the future scholars will replace Darwin’s Adaptability with Antifragility because Antifragile is also Adaptable, but it stands for more. I’m sure Darwin would have used ‘antifragile’ had the term been around in his era.

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Blog writer

Janne Vihervuori


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