New game, new culture, new IT!


The digital transformation relies on new digital tools and their networking. This creates new scope for action, which must also be used by economic actors in a competitive society. This requires new skills and new disciplinary practices, with which a change in culture goes hand in hand and also becomes necessary. All of this together defines new rules of the game in the world of work. Of central importance for the digital transformation are the IT departments. They have to establish adequate organisational forms and an adequate culture, which are new for most companies and often enough stand in stark contrast to the ACTUAL state. Motto: 180-degree change of course. In this context, it is urgently necessary to achieve both: to preserve the old computer science knowledge AND to overcome various forms of traditional computer science unculture. New game does NOT mean that complexity is not a problem and the world is a central one. The conceptual foundations of IT remain important. Especially those for dealing with complexity – even if microservices have led to a temporary relaxation. At the same time, it is critical for success that a collaborative, constructive and agile team culture is established that combines flexibility and discipline. Unconstructive, undisciplined and overly aggressive behaviour must be stopped, regardless of how supposedly competent those who practise it are. Those who terrorise others have no place in an IT team. The same applies to those who act in a misogynistic manner or like to make disparaging remarks about constructive initiatives. A huge problem here is that almost criminal practices often get more support from colleagues than reasonable ones. The supporters often think in an undifferentiated positive way and thus become nails in the coffin of reason. What is necessary is that the positive achievements are contrasted with the damage done in the evaluation. But many have been in the old game too long to see their own naivety. That is why cultural change sometimes needs more than just prudent leadership: it needs leaders who pave the way for a new IT culture and have fortune. Motto: Nothing works without fortune! The time of the expert culture is over. Those who reject teamwork or are not willing or able to communicate in a generally understandable way do not fit into digitally transformed companies. This does not mean that top expertise is not desired. Quite the opposite! But we need IT profiles instead of allotment delimiters. This also means that computer science is not just the domain of computer scientists. Especially in data science, important innovations come from computer science users. Apart from that, not using the knowledge of mathematics in data science is simply inefficient, as self-evident as such ignorance may seem to us. So the digital transformation turns many things upside down, or actually: from head to toe. It forces differentiation and precision. It demands the elimination of frictional losses in the organisations, which has enormous consequences. Nevertheless, it is only appropriate where creativity plays an important role. Elsewhere, it causes useless frictional losses itself. That is why companies should rather pursue two other goals: reducing friction losses and increasing the trustworthiness of all employees and managers. A good place to start is the IT departments. They must implement the ideas for digital transformation in the IT artefacts and networks. Because these are the prerequisite for the digital transformation to succeed. An important goal for the CEOs is therefore: reduce frictional losses in IT, increase trustworthiness in IT! Even if this requires a 180-degree change of course and a lot of luck. For this to succeed: de-digitisation! Let’s leave analogue what works very well and digitise first what we see a clear perspective for improvement. De-digitisation means focussing on the goal and purpose, taking into account the existing capacity. Digital or analogue, as the case may be. Agile or non-agile, as the case may be. Crucially, we see digital tools as tools that enhance cognitive and sensory capabilities of us humans and strategic and tactical capabilities of organisations. De-digitisation means humanising the digital transformation. It is first and foremost about putting people at the centre, especially people who like to do good work, like to work with others and like to contribute creatively for the benefit of others. Digital tools are extremely useful for this – so useful that we engage in 180-degree course changes, demand happiness, say goodbye to cherished frictions and really (should) strengthen trustworthiness. All this with a focus on empowering people – the self and others. The IT department is an ideal place to start the reorientation. This is where it is decided whether the focus is on people or on technology. Whether flexible, disciplined working becomes possible or not. Whether companies have the necessary infrastructure prerequisites for a successful digital transformation or not. IT departments have therefore never been as important as they are today – even where much is outsourced. But the need for change in IT departments has also never been greater. This is a challenge, and for everyone.

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AUTHOR: Reinhard Riedl

Prof. Dr Reinhard Riedl is a lecturer at the Institute of Digital Technology Management at BFH Wirtschaft. He is involved in many organisations and is, among other things, Vice-President of the Swiss E-Government Symposium and a member of the steering committee of TA-Swiss. He is also a board member of, Praevenire - Verein zur Optimierung der solidarischen Gesundheitsversorgung (Austria) and, among others.

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