If I were to say to you, “Let’s talk about sports.” Like most people, you would likely respond, “Which one?” And, that’s my point.
The term “technology” is like the term “sports”; they both are generic identifiers for a much broader topic. Sports, for example, can cover a vast array of activities from Football to Tai Chi, NASCAR to Water Polo, and, some would say, even Chess. Technology is the same; it is literally everything with a processor. Moreover, as the fields of Science and Technology continue to merge, some people in Biotech might argue that a processor is not necessarily required. The point is that “technology”, like “sports” is a broad term that covers a vast subject area.
So, why don’t we use the term “technology” the same way we use the term “sports”? Possibly, it’s because technology is a relatively new term and subject area by comparison. Or, maybe, it is because we don’t understand the sub-categories and specifics as well as we understand sporting events. Perhaps, it is both. Either way, it’s a problem that individuals and organizations must overcome if they are to navigate this increasingly complex subject.
A great example of how a simple subject can migrate into a complex specialty is the Parent-Coach. Initially, a parent can coach multiple sports for their young children’s teams. They move easily from sport-to-sport teaching the basics of each game, including good sportsmanship. But, this approach is less effective as the children get older and become more knowledgeable and skilled. By the time they reach the collegiate level, an accomplished professional is required to coach each individual sport with the help of assistance coaches that focus on specialties like pitching and hitting. A general knowledge is no longer sufficient; an understanding of the details is required in order to compete and win.
Technology is on this same migratory path. For years technology centric projects have been funneled to IT Departments with the thought being, “It’s technology, IT will know what to do with it.” If this were true in the past, it is not anymore. As technology continues to journey from a relatively simple subject into a complex specialty, organizations and individuals must begin to understand and identify the specific areas that are important to them, and then define a plan for managing and developing them. Success will not come from a management approach that is akin to the Little League method of coaching seasonal sports. It may appear easier and less expensive, but that’s deceptive and it is likely you will never make it to the big leagues.
As a small business owner myself, I understand that for most of us, it is simply not practical to have a crew of subject matter experts on staff. But you can do the following:
- Begin to think of the term “technology” differently. Understand which sub-categories are important to your business; not all of them are.
- Once you define the sub-categories, begin to identify and build relationships with individuals and organizations that are expert in those specific areas. The goal being to develop a network of trusted advisors that you can call on when you have questions or need to implement a new solution that is critical to keeping you or your organization competitive.
Remember “Technology” is rapidly evolving and we must continue to adapt, not only our view of it, but our approach to it.
I think Alven Toffler said it best – “The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.”