The Power of What You Do Not Know

Ryan Kristin | July 17, 2014

I know a successful businessman that has been president and CEO of an organization for 25 years. He has an impressive track record and his foresight into upcoming trends is almost supernatural. One surprising aspect of his persona however, is his lack of adoption of modern technology and tools. He has an assistant that writes emails from dictation, books airline tickets and provides research for him; and his office is filled with stacks of files and paperwork…no computer, smart phone or tablet.

The success of the organization has been rooted in his intuitions and strategic visions, but he’s disconnected from much of the day-to-day discussion that takes place due to his lack of digital proficiency. Members of his executive team can’t send him an instant message to get his take on a quick question. He’s reliant on meetings, phone calls, his assistant and face-to-face communication. He’s not able to leverage the talent downstream within his organization to help better drive the strategic vision being created at the top. He’s likely missing out on some of the collective genius in his organization. Here at Jama we like to say that the smartest person in the organization is all of us.

While my friend may be an example of the extreme end of digital resistance, there are without a doubt, many leaders in c-suites across America who are resisting adopting modern communication tools. At the same time, we’re seeing a shift in the way companies do business and create their products. At this time more than ever before, the data management and communication tools technology has afforded us are helping companies tackle the challenges of the changing landscape of product delivery. As Eric Winquist noted in a recent interview with, “Product delivery garners substantial executive attention, highlighting the strategic role that products hold in many organizations. It’s a cross-functional activity that spans executive management, sales, marketing, services, support, and operations in addition to the traditional product management, development, QA, IT, and release management functions.”

Another interesting factor in the adoption of social collaboration tools is the rise in digital proficiency. As R. Ray Wang, an expert on digital disruption, said in a recent article, “Generational shifts by age and by digital proficiency will show up in force in 2014. A generation of Millennials no longer seeks the same objectives as previous generations.” What this means is that we’re at the tipping point, with a workforce that will soon be dominated by workers who are increasingly proficient in using technology. Members of this workforce want to drive change. Leaders are tasked with staying ahead of the curve to meet growing customer expectations in a competitive landscape. There is a new era of collaborative technology available to make information accessible and shared across the organization in real time and leaders that don’t take advantage of these capabilities risk losing out and falling behind.  Those leaders that utilize this technology to capture and leverage the collective genius within their walls will be tomorrow’s victors.

Learn more about the biggest challenges facing organizations bringing products to market and how modern collaboration tools can help by watching Eric Winquist’s recent address at ALM Forum. 

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