The Human Side of Adaptive
From Mobile to Management
Adaptive Web Design works because it delivers only the necessary elements to a mobile device by detecting the user’s context and responding accordingly. As such, it is not only superior mobile technology, but its approach also translates into the type of strategy that makes companies work better overall. In both worlds — those of technology and of the people creating it — an adaptive mindset helps organizations drive an agile, competitive management plan by paying heed to real-time, customer-sourced data instead of relying exclusively on outdated and internally mandated, closed-loop strategies.
Context is key. Access to computing power through mobile devices and the cloud enables companies to parse data in ways never seen before, providing them the opportunity to offer tailored services, learn about the marketplace, and move swiftly. The individualization of the experience has never been available to this degree before.
This change requires a reassessment of traditional hierarchies and constant awareness of new approaches to marketing, selling, and delivering products. The organizational chart that details every rank and position from C-Suite to mail room now feels more rigid, as is the view that sees a single supplier group, a single consumer group, and a single competitor group. Every element that constitutes a business ecosystem is now more like a collection of free-floating organisms in a pond. The way in which they are lined up and dealt with requires a highly sophisticated and adaptive approach.
DevOps as an Internal Adaptive Mindset
The world is embracing mobile commerce, and one of its most profound impacts has been the revelation that customers demand a consistent experience across every platform, from in-store to online, a term called omnichannel. This act of blending and homogenizing the marketplace experience has a direct application to management, as it seeks to break down its hierarchical silos. There is, or will be, a greater need for a more flexible approach to cross-departmental relationships: a need for which DevOps has provided an early working model.
DevOps is a method of communication and collaboration that has helped improve relationships within the IT community and stands to do the same elsewhere. The term DevOps is an IT idiom that emphasizes communication, collaboration, integration, automation, and measurement of cooperation between software developers and other IT professionals.? It is a model for interdepartmental harmony.
Traditionally, IT existed as an individual functional area of a company, responsible for computer and network systems. The unification of technology and commerce through the omnichannel customer experience soon forced organizations to recognize that IT had to play a larger and more integrated role in the customer experience as well as continue and expand its role in business operations. It became apparent that DevOps would be a workable technique to help teams work together more effectively on the varied project types and rapidly iterating business climate.
But that success shouldn’t be limited to IT. To adapt quickly and successfully to changes in the marketplace, an organization needs to be trained in the arts of communication, delegation, and decision-making in a rapid and at times unconventional manner. Incorporating DevOps as a management mindset is similar to using official project management techniques to complete a project. They are both formalized and proven approaches to achieving goals.
Blue-Green Deployments and Management Strategy
A third opportunity that the adaptive technology mindset offers to corporate strategy is through the application of blue-green or A/B deployments. During the design cycle of a software solution, one of the best approaches to getting the product out into the world is to automate the deployment process, do the rollout incrementally, and continuously factor in corrections. This is generally preferable to bringing the system to a halt and fully rebooting. A rolling, automated deployment process allows a new solution to merge with the main system, making adjustments along the way.
The IT term “blue-green” helps distinguish between two separate but identical production environments. While one of these goes live and merges with the main system, final-stage testing can happen in the other. Then the router switches over, and the first environment goes idle, allowing for additional testing and improvements while offline. This is a technique of alternating between two identical systems to ensure functionality and ongoing improvement, simultaneously.
Deployment methods like this offer a lesson for adaptive management strategy. For decades, change has occurred painfully and slowly within organizations. It can take years for focus groups, quarterly reports, and consultants, findings to nudge a company’s decision-makers toward accepting change, and steering the enterprise, like an oil tanker, into a multi-month transitional turn. By the time the turn is completed, the market has shifted, and the lumbering process must be repeated.
Younger companies with management teams that have grown up in the age of the Internet are more comfortable quickly identifying and adapting to current market trends, determining and capitalizing on special skills and potential among staff, and experimenting with new ideas. Decision-making, regardless of industry, becomes vastly more accurate, timely, and relevant when done with real-time, customer-driven, data-enabled, iterative processes. Thinking of decision-making as a blue-green deployment instead of a straight, linear process will yield richer sets of information over time and improve quality.
The application of these three techniques, adaptive web design, DevOps, and blue-green deployments together embody a more flexible and malleable approach to getting things done on an enterprise level. Far from being theory or mere management-speak, these activities are already being employed by the most visionary of organizations, leaving the others to try and catch up.