I find myself waking up this morning, organizing my day and I run across a business article entitled "'Hatless-Hackers' are driving organizational change in surprising ways". It naturally catches my eyes.
Organizations, especially the big ones, have a habit of dictating how to do one's job. When it comes down to computing choices they often try to be very dictatorial, often in the name of cybersecurity. Here's THE laptop you can use. Here's THE web browser to you. Use THIS software, and none-other. Use BOX, but don't use DROPBOX, Google-Drive, iCloud, or anything else.
A very long time ago (in a job far, far away) I remember giving up on the "browser war" debate. Some of us are old enough to remember "Firefox vs Internet Explorer" and the arguments that would en-sue. It's almost like "emacs vs vi" (for the more venerable generation of UNIX geeks out there). In the end I came to the pragmatic position: It's just a tool people. Do you remember Mr Scott's line from Star Trek? "...The right tool for the right job!" When I started work at PlayStation, corporate didn't stop us from using other browsers, but would only take app support calls if you used IE. Eventually they officially supported multiple browsers (grudgingly it felt).
Smart IT leaders realized a long time ago that "BYOD" (Bring Your Own Device) was going to happen, like it or not. That's the case where people would bring their personal ipads, smartphones, etc, and want to get online via wifi, and (heavens forbid!) use them for work purposes too. Why? Because they were more productive with these newer technologies, more connected, more accessible. Think about it today: Would you rather use your iPhone, or still be stuck using an old Blackberry? A hefty old laptop you lug around, or your tablet? Employees were much quicker at adopting new technologies - and exploiting them for the purposes of being more productive - than companies were able to do.
Being the head of an IT organization at the time, I know all the arguments. Security is a threat, people are using something we don't monitor, maintain, or CONTROL (keyword! Because IT groups like control). It will cost so much more if we have to allow multiple laptop offerings. We cannot asset-manage ipads or iphones.
Are you more concerned about controlling dimes and pennies? Or are you more concerned about keeping your staff productive? Do the math and you'll find that extra money you may be spending on additionally hardware is only a blip (and goes down over time) versus the value of productivity you get out of your employees - and what's also very important: you get that productivity at the behest of the employee! You aren't having to shove something down their throats, make seemingly harsh demands of them in order to obtain it. They want it!
What's my point? You've got some of it already. Here's the other piece: When was the last time you found that there was only one way to solve a problem? You hired smart employees, right? (I hope so!) Let them be smart! They are very often quite willing to help find the next new way of doing things, of solving problems, or re-investing the office-space, etc - and you don't have to hire a Big Five firm for millions of dollars to figure that out. Give them the freedom to improve how your business operates! Utilize them beyond the box of the job description that you hired them into. Let the humans win! No one likes being told "this is how you will hammer that nail into the wood" when you know there's a better way to do it.
I'm not advocating a wild west scenario - sure there should be limits and boundaries - but be smart about them. Not only will you inspire a smarter workforce and smarter office-space, you'll win hearts and minds. That's culture right there. And that's REAL leadership.
Security, you say? That's easier than you think. Push education and street-smarts. People want to be secure, really they do. Help them with the do's and don'ts. Be the group of "let's figure out how to make that work" instead of the group of "no!" I found in my experience that if you give them the green light (even if it's unofficial) to experiment with SaaS solutions, create the trust relationship with them ahead of time and they'll actually come to you first to ask if it's ok to use Service XYZ. That sounds like some fantasy realm doesn't it? Yet it's 100% true, and that's what happened with my org - end-users would approach us asking if we'd check out a service before they went to use it. We wanted to allow them to find new tools to use, they then wanted us to help them with that. What better place to be?! The alternative is that IT has to approve all apps/services ahead of time, then someone finds a way around that and use GoogleDocs anyway. Which position would you rather be in?
There are so many benefits to be realized if you let go the idea that you can tell your people the one and only way to hammer a nail into a piece of wood. Let employees be good at what they're good at: solving problems. Imagine how much more productive you'll be, how you could possibly improve cycle times, even potentially TTM. That's real money! You'll instill a sense of trust into your staff, create stronger relationships, loyalty to the company - that improves employee retention rates, lowers turn-over, keeps HR costs down.