Byron's Babbles

Flirting With Technology

I’ve already done several posts reflecting on my learning from the SMART Factory League 2022 Summit, but I just spent a couple of hours during my flight home studying my notes. That study yielded another seven topics for reflection, further study, and a blog post being written. Something that we discuss this week while in Hamburg, Germany was the fact that we are always flirting with technology. There is always some new device, application, updated application, or increase capability for us to “flirt” with. I loved that way of putting it – “flirting.” Because flirting is not committing. Interestingly, the manufacturing industry and education have the same issue here: we flirt too much without making sure what we are flirting with meets our needs, is usable by our stakeholders, or even adds more burden than value. Therefore, we discussed that when flirting with technology there must be a great deal of experimentation.

This flirtation cannot be a speed date! I see this so many times, where someone in a school likes a particular technology, so that becomes the next thing. Probably the biggest areas I hear this in education are with learning management systems. I hear things like “I’m not sure who picked this, but it really isn’t that useful.” We talked a lot about the stakeholder gaps while discussing change management this week. Clearly there are stakeholder gaps in my example here. I get the fact that there needed to be some quick decisions made during the heat of the global pandemic, but we mustn’t forget the experimentation component to flirting with technology.

This experimentation must include using a model like the Vantage Point Model©. The experimentation must include stakeholder representation from the organization related to philosophy, culture, policy, strategy, tactics, logistics, and tasks. I teach this model in all leadership development work I do. I truly believe and have witnessed it to be true that if all seven stakeholder groups are represented, change has a great chance of success. Additionally, I have seen failure, particularly in the area of technology, when the stakeholders involved with tactics, logistics, or tasks are not included in the experimentation.

The list of seemingly necessary IT capabilities continues to grow, and IT spending continues to consume an increasing percentage of their budgets. No one person, committee, or department should be left to make, often by default, the choices that determine the impact of IT on your organization’s business strategy. Beware of chasing elusive benefits (eg. Information to anyone, anytime, anywhere). Choose goals for technology/digitization that match the strategy of your organization. You cannot do it all at once – do it in sprints. We need to consider how our technology can help give us a centralized global perspective, but also maintain individualization on a regional and local level. Involving all stakeholders is again important to the experimentation here.

Bottom-line: Flirting With Technology = Great Deal of Experimentation.

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