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Why you should treat your technology like an employee

Millie Higham
05/02/21 10:00

Have you ever experienced a piece of technology that took a lot of time and effort to set up, getting pushed aside and never used again once the setup is complete? It happens more than you might think and in the print industry, there is so much technology in use that it can become overwhelming. In her TED Talk, Nadjia Yousif, MD & Partner at The Boston Consulting Group, presented an interesting idea of treating your technology as a colleague. In a nutshell, here is what she talks about…

Becoming overwhelmed by technology

Imagine you hire a new employee who has great skills and lots to give, yet they’re ignored by everyone and spend their days sitting at their desk doing nothing. Essentially, this is what happens when you invest in new technology, become overwhelmed and never use it. Though business leaders expect technology to save time and make people better at their jobs, those using it often have the wrong mindset and are sceptical about embracing and working with it.

So she suggests a simple change, treat your technology like an employee. Most companies just include staff in their organizational charts, but Nadjia suggests including your technology too as it allows you to look at the interaction between human and technology.

Org Chart Screenshot

It brings questions to the surface such as…

  • Is that technology reporting to the right person?
  • Do this person and this machine work well together?
  • Is this technology like the employee that everyone is avoiding and if so, what needs to be done?

How this idea works

Every company will have ‘extra critical’ daily interactions with technology and these relationships should be analyzed. Those in charge should treat the technology like they would an employee and manage them, scheduling performance reviews and providing feedback.

Adding technology to your organizational charts will allow you to identify whether anyone is overloaded and feels that they’re being spread too thin. Just like employees, applications should be re-distributed to relieve some of that pressure.

Finally, it will identify any technology that doesn’t have an owner and raise the question of why. Is it just like an employee that is unsure of their role, so they simply need to be assigned a manager and given a new job description? Or has this technology been side-lined because it’s no longer needed?

Take your technology out for coffee

Nadjia explains that in the 21st century workplace, being able to collaborate with technology is a critical skill that many seem to be struggling to embrace. As if you were getting to know a new colleague, ‘take the technology out for coffee’; get to know it, start to feel more confident about how it works and you’ll begin to understand just how valuable having technology as a colleague is and how it’ll help us perform even better. Bigger sparks rise from this process and ideas begin to form about how to manage the technology throughout the entire company.

Here is the full TED Talk if you’d like to give it a watch.

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