Delegation principles - stimulates growth and (collective) knowledge

Lets begin by journeying back a couple of decades. Information technology architecture meant (then as now) complex design, mysterious large black boxes in a noisy (often too warm) room down in the basement of your office location. A room to which only a few had access (the sacred data-temple) and in fact only a few really needed access. Users normally got specific functions on an amber or b/w monitor, there were some applications and that was about it.

As we all know, in information technology the universe literally has re-created itself multiple times since those days. And produced quite a few "Big Bangs". Had evolutionary biology transformed as quickly as IT we should now have IR sensory links connected to our brain and hooked up to a tiny little black flat card carried either in your wallet, pocket or belt. That does all you ever need a doo-hickey to perform of miracles. That had Gigabits worth of connectivity to a mother computer.

Besides the point really. Now, throughout the evolution of technology many breeds and flavors have seen the light of day,  as well as sunset. Some good ones that (for given reasons/needs) carry on being imperial. Meaning that you really do need experts to run things. Then again others where a new breed of distribution is possible. Distribution of knowledge with delegation of responsibility. You find quite a few working on this principle today, among others in the field of collaboration technologies and services.

Collaboration, fine, what about delegation?

Ok so technology and services, applications and servers requires some form of management. By Process, functions, automation and/or individuals. Some requires less than others, open up to a much more distributed or non-centric administration and knowledge model. In the later 90's we began working with collaboration technologies. Running pilots with user communities while testing, nationally as well as globally. This ensured a much more sound and solid build, and I will say an experience that for me has remained invaluable ever after.

So we worked with selected collaboration technologies and began to look at various delegation models. Where a type of responsibility or role, previously carried out by an IT professional, moved to a super user. Who was connected with the business and could delegate further responsibility across wanted parts of the organization. It kept on developing and became something that today would look very much like a social network. We continued the exploring and testing new administrative methodologies across the globe. With various business types, cultures, and got very good results. Technologies used were the first generation of IBM collaboration software, some of these still exists today, others have been merged into larger platforms (such as IBM Connection).

From a little pilot the service grew to a global service that at its peak had thousands of users spread across hundreds of locations. Internally as externally, employees, customers, partners, suppliers interacted across borders. Major saving were achieved in those days. But behind it was a very small team of administrators, developers and designers. It was a low cost operation with some great performance results, that also documented, published and communicated diverse material. For self service and support. We also did workshops and seminars, physical hands-on as well as e-meetings.

We had some pretty good ideas before we started, some were developed together with the different cultures/communities. We founded delegation principles that leveraged competence and skills across a vast community. With minimal costs, this also created attraction among the users to explore new frontiers. Looking back it very much was a pioneering age, and I won't hesitate to say that many of our experiences either are more standards today, or about to become implemented as standards.

Consider methodologies, spread but with focus.

We learned invaluable lessons during those years and proved that training is vitally important to the success of any tool, or any service. It is in fact so important that while establishing an organizational RPM, or "learning torque"it should never be allowed to stop. The process is as important if not more important than the corporate evolution. As important as the evolution of products and services that keeps an enterprise maintaining competitive edge. It is far more cost efficient to let that which is in motion, stay in motion.

Delegation philosophy in IT services and systems may also inspire, and create engagement. Valuable to the longevity of any design, any concept, vital to the development of any culture But one may explore advantages outside limitations of one service/design, as methodologies probably can apply to a variety of processes. So in essence, as much if not more a question of culture and delegation principles than the platform. Although I have to say, some technologies may enable more flying start than others.

"Disclaimer": this blog was originally written over a decade ago but I decided to repost it since i thought some, if not all, of the content to be relevant still.

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