Business Technology: The Accelerator of MomentumNot the creator of it…
Stereo 8 (or 8-track tape) was created in 1964 by a group of companies including Lear Jet, Ford, General Motors, Motorola, and RCA. By 1970, RCA had enhanced it to a quadrophonic version (4 speaker sound) called Quad-8. It was pretty cool and very “leading edge”. If two speaker stereo was good, four speaker sound must be great, right? But while popular in North America, this technology did not catch on worldwide, and by 1980, had all but died out.
Fortunately, I was not one of those people who jumped on the trend and replaced all of my entertainment equipment and music collection. Maybe you did, or maybe you would have if you had been old enough. Today, similar tech fanatics camp out to be first in line for the latest smart phone or video game. Many business leaders also get swept up in the rush to new technology, believing that anything new is good and necessary.
I recently took over a struggling investment company. Sixteen of the twenty head office staff carried expensive state of the art mobile communication devices. Few of them held roles that regularly took them out of the office, so they carried them into meetings, and even had little stands that they propped them up on while the meeting was in session. To save cost and distraction, I collected all of the devices and told them that if they could make a case that they needed such a device to do their job effectively, they could have them back. Three people did so. Those folks were also asked to never bring them into a meeting.
In his book “Good to Great”, Jim Collins tells us that great companies use technology as “an accelerator of momentum, not a creator of it”. Watch out for the “Quad-8” technology temptation. Test every decision you make about technology with the question “Will this device accelerate our performance?” And always assign technology to the role of slave, not master.
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