As a kid, I recall being unable to fathom the concept of someone talking on a phone while in a vehicle. It seemed something reserved for the rich and famous.
Fast forward a few decades and now I, along with billions of others around the world, own such a device. We even have laws in place to prevent people from irresponsibly attempting to operate vehicles while leveraging a piece of technology. You could say things went full circle.
That’s the nature of technology for you. There are so many possibilities for technology to advance us, but there’s also a downside to putting it in the hands of humans.
While technology can be very impressive — there are some pretty amazing gadgets, systems and innovations out there — the outcome of any device, regardless of its purpose or function, is determined by human users, with all their human flaws.
Here’s a simple example: My phone has thousands of features available to me, millions of apps to download. However, my use of it is relatively basic: phone calls, emails, text messages, clock, music library, weather updates, world news, stock market updates, pedometer, camera, video camera, social media, flashlight, travel plans, personal calendar. Rudimentary, but a pretty solid list. It does all those things and more, but what do we call it? A “phone.”
Technology in a business wraps around aptitude, desire to adopt, information, communication, collaboration, troubleshooting, planning, culture and, last but not least, budget. Oh, and well-designed software.
Let’s assume you have good software in place. (I’m making this assumption because even with the best software comes with significant planning and execution. If you are not leveraging good software, it tends to amplify issues, challenges and overwhelm.)
Now enters the human. This is where rubber meets the road.
I see organizations invest money (lots of it) on technology. Nowadays, technology is a necessity. Every aspect of our lives is somehow fueled by these codes, back-end programming, electronics and data sources. A small part of the population seems to fall in the “tech-savvy, ready to optimize” category. Others may land in the “necessary evil, bare-bones user” population. For many, somewhere in the middle is their home.
It’s important to have an organization help assess, plan, train and guide a business in dealing with the intricacies of software. To that end, if you talk with a technology consultant, he or she may tell you that having a secondary degree in psychology is not a bad idea when consulting in this area.
Engaging with technology consultants causes teams to share information, negotiate current methods and processes, learn, adapt, budget, purchase and, scariest of all, change.
Technology is emotional. As technology consultants, we are keenly aware of this. On one hand, our job is to emphasize the vision of leveraging technology — that is, the dreaming of what is possible, where technology can take your organization and what desired efficiencies are available and within reach.
Related: Technology with a human touch
On the flip side, we are realists, and we have to talk about risk mitigation and deadlines.
We haven’t leveraged the chart above during a software implementation yet, but perhaps we should start. If you gauge your organization’s mood/spirits at any given point during a technology project, you’d likely find every face above in the mix.
The really crazy part is when you have all the above faces in the chart trying to work together on that same technology initiative.
Not one human, but multiple humans, interacting with different aptitudes, viewpoints and deliverables around a software solution to serve their entire organization’s needs. That is a lot of pressure, no matter how you look at it.
Back to the phone reference — even for a device that has become extremely common in daily life, there are decisions to be made about how much you will optimize a “phone.”
The power and outcome of that device is up to the user (human). If you’re part of a leadership team making decisions about organizational technology and software, your choices regarding the technology’s power and outcome will have an amplified impact, affecting every employee on the roster.
Whether we’re using personal or organizational technology, we humans will be more productive when equipped with a solid plan and the support to execute it. Using any technology is like riding a bike — comfort level grows with time. Thus, if you haven’t already, make technology your friend — because it’s here to stay.