Situation normal, everything must change

The Leading Edge Forum’s very own Simon Wardley has presented numerous times around the subject, “Situation normal, everything must change”.

At the core of the talk is the concept of situation awareness and the use of maps to help establish it. Situational awareness is used in this context to describe the need for businesses to understand what’s ahead of them, and what should be left to others. It’s a constant journey and organisations with better situation awareness are able to plot a route and navigate the landscape ahead and be successful. Those with poor situational awareness get stuck, get disrupted, and ultimately fall behind and fail.

When I look at the community of IT folks that I work with, both at our customers, and within CSC, much of the same could be said about the personal journeys they are undertaking. As technologists, it’s our job to stay up-to-date on the rapidly growing set of tools and services at our fingertips. We’re also seeing the fundamental way we design and build solutions change as solutions embrace the 3rd platform type architectures. WARNING!!! The 4th platform is already here and there are a whole new set of tools and architectures servicing its needs.

So how do we all keep up?

Well, just the same as any journey, I’d suggest you invest in a good map.

Firstly, you need to decide where you would land on the map. Do you currently provide high value services? Are they unique and rare in nature? Or are you part of a cast of thousands doing the same thing? Both positions are open to disruption. Just as companies copy the latest good business ideas of other pioneers, so do self-invested techies as they download the latest cool tech, hit the forums, contribute to open source projects, go to user groups and meetups. These communities swell and grow and what was once cool and exciting, sediments down to business as usual, and then to a commodity. You position as a pioneer wont last long if you aren’t constantly on the move.

The same goes for the person who is part of a cast of thousands. What you do today will either become automated, or completely abstracted away in the form of a service provided back to your company, putting you at risk. DON’T GET STUCK DOWN IN THE BOTTOM RIGHT!!! It’s a dangerous place to be.

Here is an example map for illustrative purposes only.

glen robinson

But once you’ve placed yourself on the map, you will start to build good situation awareness and you can define a direction of travel, your individual development plan. You should be adding new “locations” to your map, these may not be your ultimate destination, but they will influence your route non-the-less. IE, I’d happily add quantum computing to my map, it would go somewhere in the pioneering section. Now, I’m realistic that I’m never going to be a quantum computer engineer. But with that on my map, I can keep abreast of developments in this area and understand how they will impact my role today. Will quantum computing put me out of a job any time soon? I suspect not, but other slightly more mature technologies that are a pre-cursor to quantum tech will have an impact. As chip hardware improves, access to memory/storage/network capability evolves, as do application and infrastructure architectures. That directly impact me as an architect (I do still get to architect occasionally) and the skills, awareness and mind-set I need to be relevant in my industry, and to my business. Plotting all this out on my map will help me see the immediate “mountains to climb/skills to learn” I need to ensure I don’t start drifting towards the bottom right corner of my map.

We’re very lucky that in the social media age we live in, there is no shortage of free resources you can use to learn and understand what’s changing, shaping and evolving in technology, to help you understand better your journey, and to help constantly evolve the landscape on your map.

Everyone’s map will look slightly different, but at the same time, not drastically different to the person doing the same or similar job to you. I would encourage an open approach to sharing maps, comparing maps, and helping others build good situational awareness.

The survival of the fittest, in my mind, is not correct. It’s definitely those most adaptable to change that survive and prosper. A good map is definitely a good start to ensure you have good situational awareness, enabling your ability to change, and ultimate success.

Good luck fellow cartographers.

Written by Glen Robinson, CTO


  1. Rich Davies says:


    Very coherent and of huge strategic significance for CSC

    Great to see our work being utilized within the firm, it is gaining great traction in the market.


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