When we think about professions where individuals ‘practice’ their work, it generally refers to fields where continuous improvement, updating of skills, and adherence to evolving standards or knowledge are crucial. Medicine, Law, Education, Music, and Sports come to mind. The terminology around “practice” relates to fields where there’s a direct, personalized service component, involving ongoing learning, ethical considerations, and a body of professional standards or regulations.

Why don’t we practice Tech?

The tech industry encompasses a wide array of disciplines, from software development to hardware engineering, cybersecurity, etc. The work has focused on product development rather than the application of a stable body of knowledge or set of professional standards. It reminds me of a quote from Ed Zitron, “Our economy isn’t one that produces things to be used, but things that increase usage - and the result is the public decay of creativity and innovation.” There’s a massive difference between solving a problem through relentless discovery in search of the root cause and sending out a patch to cover up a glitch.

So why doesn’t tech take a page from the professionals? Why can’t we practice tech as a personalized service based on long-standing principles and direct interactions with our clients? Continuous feedback loops are crucial to circular systems. Perhaps this thinking is missing because we’re designing and building linear processes that focus on features rather than outcomes.

Accountability Partners

Traditional professions are heavily regulated and have extensive ethical codes. There are formal accreditation processes and very specific standards of practice. As AI continues to headline on the main stage, I sense that ethical considerations will become increasingly important. This phase of technological evolution aims to parse out the bullshit, and there’s a metric ton of it process.

While adaptation is crucial in both tech and traditional practice, the tech industry emphasizes innovation and disruption. Generally speaking, this ‘edge’ is often necessary when the goal is to create new tech, new products, and new ways of thinking. What if we challenged that and took the stance that most disruptive tech already exists and we just want to use what we have to make the experience better by verifiable means? What if our goal was simply to automate our existing systems by filtering them through a bullshit filter? What if, during our discovery phase, we found a problem that was simple to solve so we simply solved it? What if it was a journey to an intended outcome, with a partner who was there to help us with the body we have rather than convince us we need a newer version? What if we were trying, from the start, to radically improve our existing systems?


Our IT groups have been sold solutions since the beginning. Very few have built much beyond integration solutions. Solutions have been stacked on top of solutions. We’ve moved our data from on-site to collocation to cloud back to onsite. This shell game has kept our focus on everything other than direction. Speed has won, but we have no velocity. The red ball that’s supposed to be under shell #2 has been in the pocket of our sleight-of-hand professional the whole time. As a result, our orgs have created parallel positions that partition technology from information, hardware from software, and internal function from client experience….as if these systems aren’t interdependent and essentially related - to a point of critical dependence. Each one of those partitions has been mandated to focus on its shell - because we’re looking for the red ball. Not the best strategy.

There’s a great thinker in the strategy space. Charlie Graham played countless hours of Age of Empires back in the late 90’s. The complexity and pace of the game demands a high degree of focus, critical thinking, and teamwork. Being good at Age of Empires took practice. Charlie’s practice led him to become a top-10 player in the world. He shared how his practice informed his business model in LinkedIn post a month or so ago:

  1. Play the map you're given, not a given strategy. Every situation is different. Understand the rules, then adapt and play to the situation.

  2. Sometimes you break down a wall only to find a new one in front of you. Always be looking for an alternative way in. The best players work multiple options simultaneously.

  3. In many cases, simply not wasting resources is the key to winning.

  4. Sometimes, the best strategy emerges in real time. (F**k it, We’ll do it live!)

  5. The “definition of insanity” is a common pitfall. Trying to execute a set build order, or continue making the same units when they’re not working is a shortcut to failure.

  6. The best games are the ones we play with teammates. It is easier to learn (and win) when we have feedback from multiple perspectives.

  7. The other players should scare you. You don’t improve by playing people below your level.

  8. Observe what is happening to your allies, this way you can be prepared when it comes for you.

  9. Down is not out. You can always rebuild and come back.

  10. Stay humble. There is always someone better than you.

This fits so well with our core values at Orion Growth. Needless to say, we’re exploring many different opportunities to solve for (x) together - all of which are WICKED problems. It’s in our core DNA to “play the map we’re given.” Right now, system design, unhealthy dependencies, disparate functions, and heterogeneous data sets are impeding our ability to solve problems. Workplace as an operating system, ESG automation, and agTech intelligence are the focus. These are our areas of practice. If we have to write the standards as we go, we will. If we find our practice requires formal accreditation, we will become accredited. We are committed to creating what’s next, and not shying away from the challenge - especially for the sake of product-making and profit-driving.

The future is Tech-as-a-Practice. (TaaP) - It’s all a matter of trust - ask Billy.

Follow our journey as we sew the seeds at The Edge Report.


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