In Change Management, Project Management

Evolution and the mobile phoneLast week was marked as the 40th anniversary of the mobile phone.

So I thought we’d take a light-hearted look at the changes and evolution of the phone, since the first “brick phone”, the Motorola DynaTAC, appeared on the scene in 1983 to where we are today, and maybe we’ll try to find out what’s happening next with the ever expanding dominance and uses of smartphones.

These days smartphones have a myriad of uses. In fact I’m surprised they don’t make a decent cup of tea! Well maybe not tea, but coffee! According to an article released just last week on April 1st  (spoiler alert – please note the date) a team of scientists are very close to developing a smartphone that will also now brew a cup of coffee for you.

Bunkum! you say. Well maybe? – but think about this, if back in 1983, I had told you that in 40 years, that brick you were lugging around, that A history of change - The mobile phone
took all night to charge so you could shout into it for 35 minutes at a time would be replaced by something as small as a credit card, that you could also use as a credit card you could operate by just waving your hand over it, that it would talk to you and allow you to communicate messages to millions of people instantly, that you could watch or even make a movie on, that it could help you find your way home or lead you to someone lost, what would you say?…Bunkum right?

Oh and that little article about making you a cup of coffee ended with a confession that it was only poking a little foolish-fun at us for the day, but we may yet see a smartphone making a cup of coffee. Don’t believe me? (Scroll down to the video below).

But as I was researching the history of the phone, I also found an interesting blog written by Larry Cone 7 years ago today titled A Brief History of Change – The Future of Change.

The article discussed the future of Change Management in a software product development environment and looked to answer the question of how to balance the needs of everyone. The primary challenge then wasn’t about getting the systems requirements right,  it was about “ implementing a meta-system – a process that periodically optimizes the multivariate calculus of resources, feature set, ROI for the customer, delivery dates, user change management, and quality.”

He applies this to all organisations and breaks it down to look at the dynamics of groups with different priorities. “ The product managers want the most functionality for the users. The development team wants well-defined modules that fit together with clean interfaces. The QA group wants a clean, testable interface. The deployment team wants clean code, with no emergency patches two weeks after release. The users want more-more-more, but often can’t handle more functionality.”

His answer then was to “stay flexible”. Today we call it being Agile.

And the importance of Agile project management today cannot be greater, especially in today’s mobile smartphone industry, as has already been felt by late adopters Blackberry and Nokia in the last few years, and today by HTC. Even though it was one of the early adopters of the new technology, today it has had its revenues hit badly with 1st quarter net income falling 98% simply because a camera component shortage delayed the launch of its latest model the HTC One by only a month.

The pace of change in industry is different now, it took 10 years for Motorola to go from “the brick” to the hand held “flip-phone”. Today those technological development jumps take more like 10 months and an organisation has to react as quickly.

So what will the next 40 years bring us?

iPhone next G (A History of Change)

Oh and for those of you who thought it was just an April Fool’s prank… coffee anyone? (Here’s the video link)

I would like to thank and acknowledge Larry Cone and his 2007 Blog article A Brief History of Change – The Future of Change.

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