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Taking the “2.0” Out of Technology

This topic has been coming up a lot lately. I wrote about it a few weeks back: Social Tools Do Not a Process Make. A lot of people are overly focused on technology as a solution rather than a tool that can be used to re-enforce good policy, procedures, etc. (Read=Process) Fellow GovLoop-er, and communications consultant, Steve Radick has mentioned this a few times in his blogs as of late as well.

One can argue that “2.0 technology” is so “large” or “innovative” that it’s a game changer, but this is a standard technology argument that is as old as the world it’s self. One must recall the definition of technology to understand my point: (According to Merriam-Webster) Technology=”a manner of accomplishing a task especially using technical processes, methods, or knowledge.” By this definition technology isn’t a “thing” it’s a how and this is important to understand in discussion. Changing how we do something requires good process, methods, and/or knowledge. Lacking any of these things technology typically serves to only make things more complicated instead of easier. (As stated, how many projects can one point to that has suffered this reality?) Thus, we suffer from the reality that technology can be a double edged sword if not applied correctly to resolve a problem and in fact can end up causing more problems than it was implemented to resolve. (If this is the case, then by technical definition you have already failed.) This is the root problem in technology innovation: We can be motivated to change process due to some shiny new object that promises world peace, when all we really needed was a tool/technology that makes our processes better.

So, I leave you with this: 1.) Innovation for the sake of innovation is typically doomed to fail as it doesn’t have a problem to solve. 2.) If lacking solid process, methodology, and/or knowledge technology will typically lead to frustration rather than solutions. and 3.) Tools/Technology: no matter how shiny and awesome they are, should never be the independent solution, they are only a means to accomplishing the mission/goal.

Technology does make our lives easier, but only appropriately applied technology to existing (and solid) processes change the world we live in for the better. What we need is a “Process 2.0” driven work place, that uses the right techonlogy for the job and appropriately engages people while solving problems.

[Source: http://christopherpoirier.com]

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Profile Photo Daniel Daughtry-Weiss

I agree, I think.

I am confused by your use of the word “solution.” In particular, I’m not sure I understand what you mean by “independant solution,”

Tools/Technology: no matter how shiny and awesome they are, should never be the independent solution, they are only a means to accomplishing the mission/goal.

The word “solution” to me implies a problem, so I’m not sure how it could be independant? Perhaps you could elaborate or provide an example? That would help me understand this:

A lot of people are overly focused on technology as a solution rather than a tool that can be used to re-enforce good policy, procedures, etc. (Read=Process)

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Profile Photo Chris Poirier

Sure Daniel: The word “independent” probably wasn’t required to make my point, though I was eluding to the fact a lot of people will get introduced to a tool (like Jive, Social Text, etc a complete end to end social media “solution”) and turn to their office and say things like, “see this magic box solves all our problems.” When in fact a few things are true: 1) They didn’t have a problem to begin with or 2) The problem they had was a result of a poor business process more so than a lack of efficiency. A lot of technology helps us do things faster or more organized, but if the process is broken then the technology will only speed up the pace towards continued failure. This is the “technology as an independent solution.” Tech was introduced to solve the problem, but the problem continues because the root cause was poor process. The appropriate solution would have been to indentify the problem/root cause, fix the process AND apply only the appropriate technology needed instead of an end-to-end black box option that does lots of cool things, but you only needed it to do one thing.

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Profile Photo Daniel Daughtry-Weiss

I totally agree.I wish some of the “end-to-end” solutions were more customizable to hide the features that aren’t needed/wanted.

Good tools make it obvious what the user should do and, by making things easier for the user, incentivize adoption, but you always have to invest in change managment if you need the tool used in a standard way. I have observed the failure that results when organizations acquire a tech solution, but don’t invest in creating, monitoring, and modifying the processes required to achieve to successfully adopt the tool.

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