This article was originally published in January 2020 in our Offline Edition newspaper-newsletter.
Do You Feel It?
It’s happening at an ever-faster pace. It’s affecting us all, and no one can escape the repercussions. I’m talking about change. According to Buckminster Fuller’s Knowledge Doubling Curve, until the year 1900, human knowledge doubled approximately every century. By 1950, it doubled every 25 years. In 2000, it doubled every year. Today, IBM estimates that our collective knowledge is doubling every day!
How exciting. What a great time to be alive! Unfortunately, knowledge doubling at such a rapid pace also produces very rapid change. And very rapid change increases feelings of volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity. Rapid change can make us feel frustrated and confused when what we thought we knew yesterday is now incorrect, or what worked yesterday is now broken.
Why mention this? Because technology plays a significant role in the rapid change we are all experiencing. It’s far too easy to accept software updates — or click nefarious links — with little thought around the repercussions. According to research, 80% of technical (and I’ll venture to add security) issues are self-inflicted. Donna Scott, a Gartner analyst, notes that “80% of unplanned downtime is caused by people and process issues, including poor change management practices, while the remainder is caused by technology failures and disasters.”
Change comes in many forms. Software patches, updates, and upgrades; new software; new devices; new fonts; and new workflows are all examples of change. Something as simple as applying a macOS update from Apple (a seemingly small change) can unexpectedly interrupt an entire team’s workflow for hours (for example, when the update breaks the ability to collaborate on a critical Keynote file). Achieving balance — for yourself and your organization — between getting work done while remaining safe, or between having the latest and greatest while avoiding early-adopter issues is becoming more difficult. Why? Because everything is continually changing.
At Forget Computers, we devote substantial time exploring how to help our partners (like you) manage change and reduce complexity. This research includes technical and behavioral change (how we habitually use technology). We can’t eliminate change, and we can’t always avoid the unexpected repercussions. But we can work together to be more aware, to plan, and to prepare for change — and bounce-back more quickly when things don’t go as planned. If you want to make a change (no matter how small), please contact us. Improving communication is the best way to reduce the negative impact of change and to increase everyone’s satisfaction with technology. Admittedly, we cannot do it alone. We need your help, your feedback, and your participation. As a starting point, consider subscribing to our email newsletter forgetcomputers.com/contact, or follow us on social media (@forgetcomputers). Of course, social media is not always the best way to have a dialog, so we also encourage emails, voice and video calls, and face-to-face meetings — whatever works best for you! What does work best for you? What is the best way for us to share our message?