The Right Information to the Right People at the Right Time
I firmly believe that this is simply a lack of education and communication across levels. As illustrated by the Blockbuster/Netflix story as well as the anecdotal examples, many high-level executives are far removed from current technologies. What I have found is that all of that information and knowledge surrounding cutting edge tech is actually found at lower levels of the organization where the person in possession of the latest and greatest may not have the power to get the information to the right people. In retrospect, this seems like an obvious observation, however, if you had told me 15 years ago that some CIOs do not keep up with tech trends, your statement would have been met with a large amount of skepticism from me.
Freed from the constraints of having to meet the needs of a particular organization, I have found that it is often college students in computer science and associated fields that are up to date on the latest and greatest in tech. It is not because they are being taught the cutting-edge tech. To the contrary, many university programs are a step behind in transferring to the undergrads information that may have been discovered as a part of someone’s graduate research. These kids know the tech because they have the freedom to follow their passions and explore outside the context of a job or the classroom.
All too often after graduation, we take that exceptionally bright, curious, and open mind and force it to fit in a box of an organization where innovation and creativity are not valued. Even worse, these new engineers are not empowered to make any real meaningful impact in an organization. It is downright criminal what the majority of American corporations do to our best and brightest.
I was going to start this paragraph with the phase “in a perfect world," but I realized that is nonsense. The problem of empowering the youngest or newest of a workforce has a simple solution. Create a mechanism by where there is a straight and unfiltered line of communication from the bottom to the top. There is a model for this. The US State Department has their Dissent Channel. This concept could easily be adapted to any organization of any size and give voice to those who probably consider themselves voiceless.