Organizational behaviors of IT's boom and bust?
February 11, 2018 9:57 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking for citations/quotes that might help frame the landscape of 1996-2002ish US tech-industry organizational behavior tendencies.

I know there were plenty of dubious marketing/business strategies among dot-com-bubble outfits, but I'm interested here in some of their more-internal/operating facets -- broadly, issues around: leadership, culture, performance, motivation, teams, ethics, power, trust, organization design, change management, etc. -- which, at least to this amateur observer, were seemingly just as unsustainable.

I'm working with a firm that was something of an outlier in those regards, I suspect -- so a more general, rather than anecdotal, organizational-behavior frame would be helpful to make a contrarian case. Thanks for any leads.
posted by glibhamdreck to Work & Money (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Could you clarify what you're after a bit more?

When I read "IT" I think "the part of an organization charged with building and managing IT resources," which is to say doing things like: configuring and managing server and networking infrastructure, configuring and managing services on top of that infrastructure (e.g. email, file storage, directory services), and developing IT policy (e.g. acceptable use policies, security policies, etc.)

But the body of your question reads more like you're interested in the general business/organizational culture in dot-coms during that era. Or maybe you want to know more about how IT organizations ran within the dot-com scene during that era?
posted by mph at 10:58 AM on February 11, 2018

To clarify, my use of IT in the title was intended to be more akin to companies we might have once called dot-coms or maybe e-businnesses or something today -- those tech-industry firms with information/internet-reliant products, many of which did not survive the early-2000s bubble.
posted by glibhamdreck at 11:10 AM on February 11, 2018

“First to market” was a concept that drove people to make whatever damn thing they could dream up in hopes to be first. And if there was competition to be first to market with a new feature of an existing product (text chat to voice chat for instance), then companies poured ridiculous amounts of money to be “first to market” with that feature.

This led to ridiculously poor investments in products and companies where many times the investment and market share in a company exceeded the size the entire marketplace the company operated in.

So yeah, first to market (I guess it could also be called FOMO) drove a huge waste of bad investments. When the stock market finally decided fundamentals mattered, then the whole thing collapsed.
posted by Annika Cicada at 12:04 PM on February 11, 2018 [2 favorites]

The best author I know on the subject if IT organizations is Joel Spolsky. He has a whole bunch of articles on his website:
posted by SemiSalt at 12:20 PM on February 11, 2018 [1 favorite]

When I think of the dot com bubble and bust of the late 90s and early 2000s, the term "irrational exuberance" comes immediately to mind. Those were some... interesting times. "First to market," as mentioned by Annika Cicada also brings back memories.

If you can find them, old issues of Wired or Fast Company from back then might have what you're looking for. For some reason I thought that you could find back issues of Wired online, but I guess I was wrong. Still, any issue of either of those two from that time frame will give you a look at how the tech industry was reporting on itself.

You might also find some interesting insights by looking at the archives for Fucked Company on the Wayback Machine.
posted by ralan at 1:29 PM on February 11, 2018 [2 favorites]

Waterfall development cycles and aeron chairs are two of the hallmarks of the first boom/bust.
posted by furtive at 6:53 PM on February 11, 2018

Michael Lewis' book The New New Thing might be a good source: This Page on Goodreads lists a bunch of quotes from the book.
posted by soelo at 8:21 AM on February 12, 2018

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