What is technology?

Some standard definitions found –

– tech·nol·o·gy

1. The application of scientific knowledge for practical purposes, esp. in industry: “computertechnology“; “recycling technologies“.

Wikipedia – Technology is the making, usage, and knowledge of toolsmachines, techniques, craftssystems or methods of organization in order to solve a problem or perform a specific function

Look squirrel note – Somewhat cool look at future laptop technology

 

 

 

 

Technology is derived from the Greek words, techne and logos .

Techne meaning art or craft

Logos signifies discourse or organized words

The practice of technology is frequently that of an art or craft, as distinguished from science, which is precise and is based upon established theoretical considerations and formal processes.

Let us all state that again the word technology means to craft a manner to organize words.

Replace craft with create and words with data.

So, while there are a google of definitions on Google, for me – technology is creating a manner to organize data to provide knowledge.

Examples are –

Your mobile device connects you via text, voice and/or video DATA

Your business application systems (ERP, CRM, BI, etc…) combines text and other file data (soon it should have voice and video) and should be organizing that data to answer questions providing knowledge on business decisions

 

Your Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and now Google+ accounts collects or receives input DATA from and about you and your connections, then provides you and your connections that knowledge of your (and mine surely) mundane activities, likes/dislikes, and so on.

All the latest web/mobile based apps are about DATA, with the push for geographic information systems to check-in, show coupons and so on to give you knowledge of what is in your surroundings.

 

 

 

 

Thus, I contend that technology is now is creating a manner to organize data to provide knowledge.

Now, for you business people let me make a point beyond just my pontificating about my thoughts on the definition of technology.

You NEED a data focused person.  Call them a database developer/analyst/programmer/engineer, BUT NOT DATABASE ADMINISTRATOR.

The DBA provides operational service and support for the server, but the developer role is focused on the data and how best to move that data around to provide the knowledge to the business.

Whether that be in a business intelligence tool

Or integrating with your customers or suppliers systems

Or most importantly measuring the quality of that data.

Yes, I said it – you need to care and focus your attention with a full-time role to track, measure and report to the executive level the QUALITY of your data.

Data – meaning the knowledge you make ALL your business decisions on, after your gut of course.

Why would you not be able to justify in your mind and budget that role?

Now a tip on hiring this role, creating requires a type of personality and mindset that is open to non-linear thought processes and limited in how much they judge things or people.

A linear thinking person who is strong in judgment or thing and people should go into accounting, engineering or politics.

The low judgment factor has them very accepting that there are different approaches to solving a single problem.

So improve your knowledge by using technology by hiring a crafty creative database developer.

Rule #7 Laughter is a sign of a well performing team, not slackers

Sure, if all that is done is people hanging out in each other’s desks chatting up and exchanging the latest jokes, fantasy sports picks and recaps of the weekend well your problem is not your staff, but you. But, that is handled much better by smarter people than I, like –

Stephen Covey – too many books to mention

Tom Rath – Strength Based Leadership

Patrick Lecioni – The Five Dysfunctions of a Team

Marty Wolff – a plug for my favorite emotional intelligence/change management guy

My point is that during my 20 plus years in small to large organizations I have seen various reactions from management when they see/hear a group of employee’s gathered and laughing together.    

The ‘what the hell’ reaction – manager either looks over disapprovingly like a hawkish librarian or walks over and directly “Let’s break this up” or indirectly “Excuse me everyone, I need to talk to one of you”.    

                                                                                                                                      

The ‘this is a place of business’ reaction – manager explains that we are serious here and all are working hard and there is no cause for this banter and frivolity. Okay, that is a bit of Oliver Twist style management.

                                                                                                                                                                                                             

 The ‘can I join in’ reaction – manager scampers over to the group to be part of the team.

There are others. Each of the above are wrong reactions. The response versus a knee jerk reaction should be a simple smile at the group and perhaps nodding up and down to show you approve.

THESE PEOPLE ARE GETTING ALONG AND THE WORK TOGETHER. DO YOU GET THAT!

Okay, breath – woooosh. I am okay now. Most of the time organizations place groups of people at odds with each other as one tries to feed the other information, forms, and so on. Pushing down or up the line requests or orders. They need to work well together and that starts with them having a relationship that will help them communicate and understand each other when problems arise. And problems will arise, damn shooting they will.

Therefore, you want to smooth out the problems.

Get the focus on the solutions and not on who caused what to happen.

Well, let them laugh and show them it is okay.

This is a touchy subject for me on two counts.

  1. That I as the employee were talked to about spending too much time having fun and not being ‘serious’ about his work.
    • Trust me I was never involved with any busy that you should be that serious about – not curing cancer, defending the country or ensuring that playcall was correct upon review.
  1. As a manager in several roles including executive, I had to respond to it being brought to my attention that members of my team were seen gathering and laughing and that I should be aware that the ‘perception’ that activity projects.
    • I would listen and express to them that the perception is countered by their successful execution what we do, the laughter is not a by product, but the fuel for that success.

 

   

       

   

Build a culture of fun, hard work, and no fear of failure. It will breed success.

Start with the fun part.         

Book Review – Execution, The Discipline of Getting Things Done

Author Larry Bossidy & Ram Charan

A quick read with each chapter giving you something useful to put into practice.  All too often leaders get frustrated that completion of activities is not occurring and they lash out at their teams.

 

 

 

 

I have been guilty of this action and thankfully my teams have been forthright enough to point out that I was acting like a crazed Captain Kirk asking to get 110% and to just make it so (ok that is Picard).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

–       Seven essentials of execution on page 57

  • While these are built upon in the rest of the book, reminding myself quickly brings back the concepts to actually use.

 

–       As a leader you have to show up on page 63

  • Showing up defined as being present, not losing your attention by focusing on your smartphone, tablet or SQUIRREL!
  • Focus on the person or people in front of you.

 

–       New EDS Beliefs on page 91

  • Changing not the values in your business, department or team – but changing the beliefs about those values.
  • First as part of your SWOT identify the old beliefs both internal and external, and then define the new.

–       Leadership Assessment Summary on page 151

  • A simple chart to evaluate the potential and current value of your team

–       Principle of simultaneity on page 232

  • During planning session and budget development change from doing separately and start with a gathering all business leaders to set the foundation for simultaneously agreeing to direction, plans and budget allocations.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I review this book once a month to refocus my efforts when working with teams.  It offers simple reminders on focusing on priorities and facilitating the same with your teams.

Rule #6 Spend more time in other people’s offices and cubicles than your own

Spend more time in other people’s offices and cubicles than your own, especially between 9 and 4pm.

This is a simple rule that we all get caught up in when we have in our mind a ‘major’

  • report
  • presentation
  • budget
  • performance reviews
  • contract to review
  • project plan
  • etc…

to do and we virtually lock ourselves in our office for the entire day.

 

 

The door may be open to comply with your open door policy, but your body language indicates to those people who come to you for     

  • advice
  • help
  • direction
  • approval
  • etc…

that the door may be open, but you are closed for business today.

We have that work to do that requires focus, but it should not be for the entire day.

Use good time management practices of working on that ‘major’ thing first thing in the morning for 15, 30, or 60 minutes and then stop.


Meet with the people you need to collaborate with, but out of your office. Your team needs to see you each and every day you are in the office.

  • Check on that project status.
  • Give a high five for that customer who was satisfied because that person went above and beyond
  • Give a head slap to that person who has falling behind or not giving the effort needed
  • Take the temperature of the group
  • Check in with a peer on how that trip they just returned from went

Then, get back to the office for another 15, 30, or 60 minutes on the ‘major’ effort.

Your are part of a team, you need to be with the team (your area, your peers area, the company as a whole).

The Sunk Cost Fallacy

Fast Company is one of the sites I use to keep up to speed on what is going with business and technology.  I found this article by Kevin Purdy’s interviewing David McRaney.  It provided that insightful reminder of things we already know, but like to forget we know.

 

Such as – You’d like to believe that you can evaluate the future worth of a project, an investment, or just a laptop with the stoic gaze of a Wall Street lifer.

But you tend to favor those things you’ve already “invested” in, because otherwise–horror of horrors–you’d have made a mistake in your past.

 

McRaney goes on to give this a name “sunk cost fallacy”.  The concept is simple as McRaney describes it “The pain of losing something is twice as strong as the joy in gaining the same exact thing”.

Or put in a longer way “Loss aversion is one of your strongest drives. You know a confirmed loss lingers and grows in your mind, becoming larger in your history than it was when you first felt it. Whenever this clinging to the past becomes a factor in making decisions about your future, you run the risk of being derailed by the sunk cost fallacy.

Thus, why when we finally come to the conclusion after years of trying to fix everything from ERP’s implementations to correcting performance issues with employees who have been with you for years that we need to make a change we flip flop back and forth.

It is an emotional rollercoaster of logic shouting in your head you need to do this change and feelings telling you that it will be painful and rationalization telling you that the pain is not worth it.

Fill in the blank ____________________________ for your favorite rationalizations.

Mine often are

–       it is a priority, but if I don’t do this other thing people will be more upset

–       yes we would have saved money, but upgrading it could support growth

–       I did not like her anyway (oops, how did that get in here)

I recommend reading the article and start following McRaney’s Blog.