Riding the Wave

Where are you with Technology? When ever I have asked that question over the years hardly anyone has said positive things in response. Why is that?

Where are you with Technology?

When ever I have asked that question over the years hardly anyone has said positive things in response. Why is that? The conclusion I have come to is simply we are never ready for change, we don’t like the thought of having to do things differently and we generally resist technology in what ever form it takes. Maybe it is because our minds are all too quick to reinforce the bad experiences. The truth of the matter is very few of us have ever been trained properly on any aspects of technology, thus we feel more negative than positive. By some magical means we are expected to learn the "new stuff" without proper training. The greatest example of this has been the computer. The actual operations it performs and the basics of its functions are largely left up to the individual to discover… how bizarre!! Learning to drive a motor vehicle is something we take seriously (well most of us do), because there are regulations and safety issues and then we are given a licence to operate. No such process with computers, yet the damage we can do, the frustration that occurs and the time we waste is huge. Should we be licenced to operate a computer? Yes, absolutely yes!! You see, what has happened over the years has been a gradual yet persistent increase in new technology and computers have lead the way.. kinda creeping up on us and mingling with our lives to the extent now most of us know just a fraction of what we could about uses of computers.

Just show me the buttons to push

To be fair, some of the makers of technology have not helped as they appear only interested in ploughing the gear out of their doors into our offices and homes and for us to find a use and application. Then again there is a lot of training we could do but because we only want to know effectively what button to push to give us the right result we are only interested in learning just enough to get us by on a day to day basis and that is the problem!

Hand in hand technology and productivity

We don’t know what we don’t know! Which is why actual productivity (call it value if you like) with technology is a mere fraction of what it could be. The cry at the moment is to lift our productivity, with certainty I maintain we could easily double workplace productivity if all the workforce understood just 20% more about the tools they have. Not a bad gain you say, but we are too scared to concentrate, invest (spend money!) to this level. So what are you going to do.. bob along in the ocean of technology waiting for the tsunami to gobble you up. The tsunami I refer to is the bow wave of technology that is heading or way over the next 30 years. The experts call it the "Technology Age" and we are only 5 years into it. Like preparing for tsunamis (gosh we were reminded of that only a few months ago) we must prepare ourselves for this Technology Age. We need to adopt a fresh approach to training, the organisations we work with have to spend more resources in technology training but even more importantly we as individuals need to take a personal approach to upskilling.

It's all a bit of a joke!

To tell you the truth I really think we all think it’s a bit of a joke to play "dumb" when it comes to technology. In fact we think it is rather more "cool" to be technology challenged than to be well equipped in this area of our lives. We have standard phrases we pop out at regular intervals like " I just find a kid and they can find a way to make it work" – ever wondered why most kids are okay with technology? Answer is simple – They are happy to give it a go, they don’t mind if they break it (truth is mostly you can’t anyway, but the average adult mind is hardware driven and the average kids mind is software driven) as they didn’t pay for it! The average adult is often just far "too adult" to explore beyond the safety of their harbour.

Time to get serious

We have to take technology more seriously. It’s not a joke anymore! The next thing we do, and we are very good at this, is blame others when things go wrong. Oh gosh I have been good at this over the years for sure, but we have got to stop doing that and take responsibility, more over, learn more about what we are doing with technology. Now I know only too well some of the designers of technology do need a kick up the backside for some of the hoops they put us through to "make it work", but again mostly it is our in attention to learning the basics that let us down.

Just do it

Now what are you going to do to help yourself? This in the absence and addition to any formal assistance. You are going to dedicate ten minutes of your life each day to upskilling . no ifs no buts no maybes as Nike ad says "Just do it". You are going to call it your personal up-skilling time. Just you and technology. Each ten minute session should be long enough to learn something new and short enough to keep you interested ( welcome to the age of instant gratification – if you can’t fathom it in ten minutes you will get annoyed). This approach is something I figured out two years ago and it works extremely well. The output is consistent, progressive learning and once you have made a start it is kind of infectious (I find myself always looking out for ten minute topics in the course of a day) . I look forward to my ten minutes a day and some days I find time and reason to do two maybe three ten minute sessions. When I look back at the ground I have covered it has been amazing, my productivity with technology has more doubled, I am using features with my cellphone, PDA, and computer I never knew existed let alone the hundreds of short cuts I have taken on board in using software. One word of warning this is not a one off it is not short term it’s your personal program of learning for ever! This is your answer to making a fresh start with mastering technology, it’s not the only approach.

Just enough is not enough

Employers of this country need to take a fresh look also and invest more in technology skills training, they need to do more than "just enough" as is mostly the case right now. We are being delivered wonderful tools with technology but to achieve the real productivity gains these tools can give us we all need to upskill more than ever before. Right now all too few of us are riding the technology wave. Most of us are frustrating ourselves by paddling in the shallows and not enjoying the excitement and productivity gains that could be made by riding the wave.

Three part approach.

The designers and manufactures of technology stepping up to the mark with simple real (not just perceived) user friendly ways to use the new tools.

Business leaders accepting upskilling their employees in the use of technology will be rewarded many times over with higher productivity.

Individuals, all of us, understanding we are living in the Technology Age and it is our personal responsibility to make sure we do our best to learn more about technology and apply that learning in our daily business and private life.

An editorial by Grant Sidaway, SeniorNet