Technology and The Team

            While reading an article in this week’s Bloomberg Businessweek regarding Jim Messina and his efforts as a campaign manager, one message is crystal clear – technology must be embraced and used to get a particular viewpoint communicated to the masses.  But what about individuals? While many people race to get the latest gadget, app or software, there are plenty of people out there who still resist placing an infinite amount of trust in technology.  To be honest, Team Reluctance has a point.  With security breaches almost daily, costing people and companies thousands if not millions of dollars, confidence can be shaken easily regarding personal information protection.  Also, pushing to store business data and information in the cloud sounds like a great idea; however, anyone who has experienced an outage or a loss of data will attest that online storage may be like putting all of your eggs in one basket with potentially catastrophic results.  Should Team Reluctance win out over Team Technology?

                Nope.  The fact you are reading this blog means technology has major advantages that should be valued.  One of the biggest benefits is communication.  Basically, in one generation, the world shrank.  It was pointed out during a generational discussion I facilitated last week that the Millennial generation is global.  No longer do we rely only on the daily newspaper or the evening news to understand the world around us – and I do mean world. Think about this: It is now commonplace to chat with someone thousands of miles away, something unheard of without high phone bills only twenty years ago.  Texting, tweeting, Facebook posts, blogging, even email – all of these activities are different media in which to communicate.  The messages we share are potentially destined to go around the entire world! This can be a key asset for businesses looking to spread their message.  Whether it is a political campaign, advertising pitch or just a point of view, technology today gives organizations the opportunity to connect with people on a personal level faster and more in-depth than ever. 

                When it comes to smaller groups or tasks, though, leaders have to balance which side they are on – Team Reluctance or Team Technology.  It really depends on the group they are leading and the goal in mind.  If the group is savvy with communication tools like texting or Skype, leaders should explore those communication options in order to help their group be more efficient.  The team may even feel held back if they are not able to use their available like texting!  On the other hand, if the people who comprise the group are not ready to integrate that type of communication into their work habits, leaders should avoid that type of tool.  When it comes to work habits, leaders may make group members uncomfortable or confused, which may slow down productivity if the leader pushes new technology into an unwelcoming environment.  Bottom line: Leaders need to read their team and use the most efficient tools for that particular group.  Leaders, therefore, must be technically competent in order to be on either side of the equation regarding technology integration. 

-Lori Buresh

CEO, The Professional Development Team


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  1. #1 by Ikonographi on June 18, 2012 - 1:32 pm

    Feeling not too little like a “hypocrite”…my own usage of the “blogosphere” somewhat essential to my un-ending crusade to “Save the Past”…I submit my own contrarian view.

    Technology is a tool…as tools increase in efficiency, output and therefore complexity, so too does the manner in which these tools shape our practices and principles. Making the comparison to warfare, examine the changes in tactics resulting from the advent of the rifled barrel, long range aritllery, aircraft and chemcial weapons. As little as a century ago, the priciples applied in the field differed little from those that had been in general use since the Eighteenth Century…However, in the last hundred years, we’ve altered nearly every aspect of war, to include the manner in which combat leaders cope with communications, logistics, acceptable risks and the moral imperative…the business world is no different.

    Have we noticed how rare the terms, “Business Week” and “Close of Business” have become in the last two decades? Automation, instant messaging, constant contact…these have all led to a twenty-four hour marketplace where time zone means nothing. As a result, we’ve had to change our practices to accomodate more efficent systems, replacing “brick and mortar” infrastructure with web based logsitics, warehousing and support services…this equates to less employees, realtive to any center of mass.

    However, those human bodies required to maintain and “feed’ the machine are becoming increasingly younger…more technically savvy…more flexible in terms of the roles they need to play in order to remain a part of that system. In short, the societal changes you focused on in your earlier post have come on the heels of rapid integration of technolgical innovation.

    Leadership and management are not synonomous…

    Managing a process requires an acute ability to position resources where they need to be, when they need to be for success…it does not require consideration of the effect such demands have on the personal lives of the human “resources” at one’s disposal…that’s where leadership comes in. Most certainly, leaders should be competent in the “tools” they must manage…however the ability to maser them doesn’t preclude the requriement for the courage to use them responsibly.

    In terms of efficiency, mastery of the available resources, and overall success…few armies can compare to the German military in the early days of World War II. However, their officer corps, historically recognized throughout the world as the elite of commissioned leadership, fell prey to sanctioned disregard for the moral imperative. This lack of internal balance…the ability to measure success against the human cost…utlimately led to the defeat of the German war machine, often at the hands of technologically inferior forces.

    If Western business does not begin balancing the available increases in output, efficiency, and ultimately profit garnered by rapidly evolving techonology, there will soon be a price in sustainability of those models.

  2. #2 by The Professional Development Team on June 18, 2012 - 2:12 pm

    I think we are actually saying the same thing, it is part of leadership to balance the use of tools against the ability of the team. Your analogy of the German military proved this point and I liked your line “the ability to measure success against the human cost”. If you have a team working towards a goal, additional technology may or may not help the effort of the team. If the members are technical wizards then the integration and use of available tools is not a burden to the team. However, if the team members are not as adept with technology, it would be foolish for a team leader to push and force the team to adopt new practices or new tools that may slow down or stop the producitivty of the team overall. A different approach is to train people along the way in regards to new techniques, technology and methodologies so when a goal is set, the team is already familiar and comfortable instead of trial by fire.

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