For most things in life, when we have somewhere we want to go or something we want to achieve we regularly check that we are on track. We look up, see which direction we are heading in, and readjust accordingly. We want to be efficient and make sure we are on the way to where we need to be. We taste the cake mix, feel the temperature of the bath, and check google maps.
When we forget to regularly check-in we end up lost, with a bland cake and scolded toes. I hate it when that happens.
When we look up out of our narrow hole of concentration we realise we have gone way off course.
So why has software development traditionally been different?
Long product release cycles, no check-ins, few iterative changes and rarely developed with the end user in mind. Then they wonder why people don’t use the product.
Last week I was chatting to a man at the Connected Enterprise conference in Melbourne. He was telling me how in software development 18 months is a short time between production versions. He nearly fell over backwards when I told him that Yammer releases a new version every week. That at Yammer we roll out small iterative changes to make sure the platform is always relevant and fits the needs of the end user.
To stay relevant you need to be agile. You need to adapt to the evolving environment. A few whispers on the street last week about how Yammer’s development model is being leveraged. Exciting.
On another not-so-agile note, I did a triathlon the other weekend. Like in everything, one of the key things to remember is to look up every five to ten strokes to check your line. I got carried away, relaxed into a rhythm, felt the water between my fingers, steadied my breathing and felt like I was moving fast. When I looked up I was no longer swimming towards the buoy. It was almost as bad as when I forgot to add the sugar to my chocolate cake. Lessons learned. Agile is awesome.
Adoption is something that we do with purpose and acknowledgement. We adopt a new technology, device, way of being. As something sweeps through the adoption curve there are the innovators, the early adopters, the majority and the laggards. Initially you notice the physical signs of adoption – the iPads, the bikram yoga studios, the free wifi signs, the quinoa on the menu. But as these trends gain momentum we not only adopt but also adapt. We become less aware of these physical signs of disruption as they become part of our norm.
As something increasingly becomes more visible in our lives it simultaneously becomes invisible.
Take the internet for example. With smart phones, the accessibility of wifi networks and advertising calls to action we are constantly surrounded by and reminded of the internet hundreds of times a day. The connection to the internet itself however, is almost invisible. Previously we accessed a dial up connection from the home or office by a desk top computer. Now you turn on your phone, iPad, or laptop and are immediately online without even being made aware of the necessity to connect. The internet is just there. Invisible.
Everyday I work with people that are rolling out Yammer across their organisation. They are building it’s visibility across departments as the place for communication and collaboration. The concept of an enterprise social network is powering through the adoption curve. It is currently disruptive and visible. But once it reaches the point of full adoption and it becomes the place of familiarity that people go to get work done, like other things that reach saturation, it will become invisible. The platform itself dissolves into the background and it is the conversations, the content and the people that are the central focal point and become visible. People forget they are using an enterprise social network, they are just working in a collaborative space and better connected to their colleagues than ever before.
If full adoption equals invisibility how does a technology or product continue to be disruptive once it has reached 100% adoption?
They continue to innovate and evolve. Yammer for example, releases on a weekly development schedule. They push people to adopt and adapt. They don’t sit back, relax and bask in the invisibility.They keep pushing the boundaries. You remain invisible for too long and you become irrelevant.