What does Information Technology mean to you, the individual? In a world of corporate offices and organizational guidelines you may begin to ask yourself this question and you may even begin to see Information Technology as just another ‘control device’- jeopardizing your freedom and pushing you to conform to a standardized model. And it can be if you’re not careful….It has been forewarned, “…technology is a great servant, but a terrible master.”
If you’re like me, you probably find that there is so much information out there you can find yourself simply chasing curiosity, without direction, and begin feeling inferior to the information you seek. Merely conforming to the popular solution advertising and sales personnel suggest serve you best!
Where’s the creativity, the individuality….the spontaneity in the workplace, you may ask??? How do I give it my best, if the current model fits someone else’s ‘best’ better….How is technology going to benefit me!?
The standard response is most likely to compete; to study harder, work harder, learn the standard model better than anyone else and force it to work to your benefit.
However, I believe we are quickly reaching a precipice where harder is not necessarily smarter; where an individual’s unique contribution, his or her own unique talent, is simply overshadowed because it does not adhere to the current model.
In today’s workplace you must have the courage to follow your own heart, and organization must promote and reward this individuality. And, I feel, if used appropriately, and with proper intent; not just a complacent trend, technology can promote individuality and performance together! As the old saying goes, “there is always more than one way to skin the same cat.” And technology can help!
You may find in your organization that everyone has adhered to one method (often put forth by management) of performing particular tasks that does not really complement your God given talents. Yet, from a managerial point of view, conforming, and standardized forms of operation, help control production and manage performance. The question then becomes how to bridge this paradox?
I think it is proven that individuals function best when given the proper information, the appropriate tools and the desired result; then are left to determine the best path to the desired result congruent with their unique talents.
However, from a managerial point-of-view the concern then becomes how to anticipate, and address, the often unforeseen consequences of an individual’s performance on the entire group, or organization. I think automated processes, introduced by technology, can best address this conflict.
If one individual performs a certain task in his/her own method an automated function, based in technology, can address the consequence of that method, so that all individual performance complement, and adhere to, a standardized process of the organization without inhibiting the individual’s unique talent, or method of operation.
This works with your clients as well. Not every individual shops, purchases, or even learns, in the same manor, and technology can offer choice!
This can all be achieved only if the contributing individual’s results, and the standardized, organizational process, are of value to the organization. Individuals must contribute, and organizations must evolve and complement their workforce. If one element is missing, organization can waist thousands of dollars on technology trying to rectify misguided attempts.
Management should listen to their employees, not simply monitor behavior vs. results, and see uniqueness as an asset. Use technology to complement the individual; not conform and mold he/she into a preconceived standard model.
From the frontlines, this is Bart Beyers reporting.