Harold Jarche posted It’s not about the technology the other day. He was looking at resistance to adopting technology, something I’ve let roll around the back burner lately. And he makes a great point:
It’s not about the technology, but it’s definitely not about ignoring the technology.
I’d actually thought about a post with the title, “It’s not the tech; it’s the aliens.” Putting myself next to people who seem to resist change, I’ve tried to figure out the sources, which I think include:
- I’m using what works.
- I haven’t got time for this.
- Doing things this way is kind of stupid, but I’m used to how stupid.
- So I have to read blogs, and I have to have a feedreader (only it’s called feedburner?), and I have to read it to read the other stuff? Where do I get a job that pays me to “friend” people?
I do have some bias against early adoption, because it seems to lead to marketing and then prosetylization. (If you’re not on Twitter, there must be something wrong with you. If you’re still using Front Page, you probably need a twelve-step group.)
In talking about how learning shouldn’t be too easy, I used this photo:
In terms of using new technology (or, really, any kind of new tool or process) at work, think of the vertical axis as time to spare, and the horizontal axis as pressure to produce.
I think if people have lots of time to spare, they’re actually less likely to play with new tools. There’s no motivation whatsoever, other than escape from boredom. (Similarly, as the old post says, if you don’t see any challenge in a new learning situation, you don’t exert yourself at all.)
As the pressure to produce results increases, though, to the extent I’ve got some time to spare, I might try a new tool — but the payoff has to be reasonably apparent. As soon as I feel I’m going backwards, I’m going to bail out. What’s more, I’ll have another example of a dumb idea imposed on me from the outside.
Keep in mind that some new ideas are dumb, at least to those who have to carry them out. If you’ve been to a U.S. post office lately, you’ve probably encountered counterproductive upselling disguised as customer service.
Do you want priority mail? Do you want insurance? Do you want confirmation of delivery? Do you want chocolate sprinkles with the confirmation?
Harold gives examples of people getting things done through technology. These are vital, I think. Even in face-to-face computer training, people generally have very little interest in “learning to use a spreadsheet.” But “analyzing monthly sales” (or even “avoiding math when making reports”) appeals to self-interest, and to getting something done (as opposed to “doing something”).
No matter what the goal of the training (or, for the more highbrow, “the learning opportunity”), people need to quickly produce results that they judge as worthwhile.
Bell-curve bench photo by cris.