Recently, I spoke with a client who answered this question by saying that technology can, when introduced too soon, short circuit the learning process. People can lean too much on the technology without fully understanding what the process and tools are really trying to do. This can work against trying to establish new behaviors and practices.
In a fashion, my client's response speaks against today's widespread perspective that technology is the answer to many of our problems. For some, the introduction and use of technology is necessary to achieve the outcomes we want. However, is there a point where technology can actually get in the way from achieving these outcomes. And if so, how do you know when you have reached that point?
This perspective that technology is the answer to our problems partly comes from a mindset of what is called technology determinism also referred to as technology-push. This view suggests that technology drives the solution instead of the business shaping what is needed. In many ways technology is the key enabler to change.
However, technology-push can cause issues when the technology runs ahead of the business need. In this case, you end up with a solution looking for a problem rather than the other way around. This is where the rub is and the heart of where my client was coming from.
Technology is often needed to support change but without the right balance it can "push" beyond what is needed and cause issues that can work against achieving the desired outcomes. Keeping the tension between the business demand and technology push is difficult.
Here are a few things that can help:
Keep the overall outcomes in mind. Don't forget what the technology is for.
Keep the business need and the technology capabilities in sync. Don't let either get too far ahead of the other (i.e. don't over or under invest).
Keep measuring and monitoring your outcomes and adjust capabilities when necessary. It is possible to slow or speed up adoption to stay in sync with technology introduction.
Remember this is more like dancing than racing.
What ways have you observed technology hindering or advancing your program outcomes?
What needs to happen to keep the business need and the technology capabilities in sync?
What would it look like if technology was at the right level?
What step can you take to adjust your use of technology to match your business need?