After a generation of Technology Heroes, how do we pair the lessons of innovation with operational scale, new products, and wide adoption?
Technology is a dynamic and exciting field that has exploded in a very short period, well within our lifetimes. A generation of Technology Heroes have set the culture of innovation and leadership with great success.
Behind the scenes and under the covers, the rapid pace of innovative progress has not been matched by an increase in the capacity to operate. Many of the top-tier companies in the news for their amazing products, logistical prowess, or seemingly infinite scalability, are actually resting their operations on delicate foundations. There are simply not enough potential Technology Heroes in the world. A small number of companies can hire the most talented IT professionals and extend the visions of their founders to great scale, but there are few left over to demonstrate the value to the wider business community, leading to a form of "geek fatigue".
The truth is that very few companies have learned to bottle the essence of their Technology Hero (Jobs, Bezos, Zuckerberg to name a few). Just like we all secretly wish we could dunk a basketball like Michael Jordan, we all secretly wish we could create the next iPod or Facebook. The entire IT professional class was raised, trained an incented with this ethos. While the hero ethos is absolutely key to the pace of innovation we all value, it must be paired with an operational practice that is repeatable and credible to those businesses not built around leading edge tech innovation; those businesses that will integrate features into saving our lives, or distributing our power, or other humanity-impacting fields.
If we are ever going to realize the tech-enabled future we all know is possible, we must develop professionals that will march along side the Heroes.
Given that we rightly admire our Tech Heroes, how do we learn to value and encourage the professionals as well?