The IT Liberation Movement - an IT Renaissance

[Update: At the DOES15 conference, I think George Spafford finally nailed the name of this for me: an IT Renaissance ]

This industry has so over-used superlatives that most no longer have any impact or meaning. But this is genuinely a big paradigm shift in IT. For years I've seen its shadow, seen it moving in the distance, seen the effects, the symptoms; tried to define it, to put my finger on it. I remember saying something to this effect when discussing the big picture of IT with Fatima Cabral at PINK15 and feeeling frustrated that I couldn't put it in more concrete terms for her.

Then I used the word "liberation" in my Multi-speed IT post. This clicked: it resonates with me as the best defining word (so far).

We talked about it on the ITSM Global Podcast:

All of the following phenomena are interesting in their own right, but even more interesting if you see them as surface manifestations of something deeper and more fundamental, a single shift in the way the world thinks about IT:

  • Cloud
  • Agile
  • DevOps
  • ...and Anti-fragile
  • ...and of course The Phoenix Project
  • Shadow IT
  • Dark IT
  • The Quantum Age of IT
  • BYOD
  • Mobile
  • Apps
  • Social media
  • Independent user forums
  • The insolent millennials
  • Calls for Slow Business and Slow IT - take it easier on people
  • My Standard+Case approach which is part of...
  • The empowerment of the knowledge worker
  • The increasing emphasis on cultural change
  • Gene Kim's "humane IT"
  • shedding IT cynicism - Agile niceness and integrity
  • [what else?]

I called this the IT Liberation Movement because that seemed a catchy name. It is not a movement yet in the sense that those pieces are only just beginning to link up, there isn't a conscious confederation of all the groups. It is a movement in the sense of a tectonic shift, a gradual change in the way we think.

He aha te mea nui o te ao
What is the most important thing in the world?
He tangata, he tangata, he tangata
It is the people, it is the people, it is the people
Maori proverb
He Tangata: IT is the people. As the 20th Century ended IT sector matured from a technology-centric industry to a process-centric one (the classic manifestation of which was of course the massive uptake of ITIL), and only in the last decade have we matured to a people-centric approach to IT. Only in recent years have we come to understand that people make process and process drives technology, and not the other way around; that (almost) all change in IT is primarily about changing the way people work; that attitudes, behaviour and culture matters (GamingWorks coined the term "ABC" years ago too).

© Copyright CanstockPhoto.comThis is the IT Liberation Movement: liberating people from process and technology; the understanding that people deserve to be respected and empowered; the shift from control to facilitation.

It is not some hippy anarchist movement (mostly). It's not the "Cowboys and Acrobats" I railed against years ago. It doesn't mean no process, no control, no risk management. We still need those. We still need to maintain the balance of "To protect and Serve".

It means a new emphasis on the rest of IT, beyond those standardised areas we can control within a defined process. It means liberation from constraint, from rigidity, from cumbersome complexity. It means a focus on the humanity of IT, on behaviour and culture, on beliefs.

That's a bit waffly. I need to write and talk more to better define this thing. Is "liberation" a defining word? What does the big shift mean to you? Help me out in the comments below...

Presented at Pink Elephant IT Service Management Conference 2016:

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