It is truly amazing how technology has changed in the few years I have been on this earth. For example Facebook whilst I am not a die-hard fan, but I find the social networking program useful. Which is what the inventor of the system intended. And not this willingness to overexposed every mortal action that one take every minute of every day.
I went to a Boarding school in South Africa and graduated in 1960 so many years have passed, but when I graduated computers needed an air-conditioned room; with men and women in white coats looking after the computers every need 24 hours a day. And output was reduced to hard copy via a very loud printer. Companies like Microsoft were still in their mothers wombs. How things have changed we have telephones more powerful than those revered computers. And televisions were machines that we read about in books (Remember those rectangular compilations of learned works which weighed a lot and you needed many of them to know anything)
So I decided to try to find some of my class mates in South Africa. I searched the Facebook network with some of the names I remember and lo and behold my best friend from school turned up. Within minutes we were swapping short resumes of what we have done and where we have been in the years that have passed. The only reason my friend was on Facebook was because his daughter persuaded him to do so, for which I am grateful. It just shows how this technology we use as every day fare can be used to really good effect. But must be metered with a modicum of common sense, because I believe that whilst the technology is fantastic you do not have to be married to it. I was watching a basket ball game recently and it was at a high school, and I looked around the audience I noticed 50% of the attendees were busily concentrating on the little smart phones they were holding in their hands. And in reality were not aware of the game. Why not stay home?
This obsession for everything instant has migrated to the work place and has become the scourge of any formal meeting, even if the device is on vibrate. There is this urgent need to immediately answer the phone or text message. So the effectiveness of the meeting is immediately reduced. So as I see it much of this wonderful technology has become an aid to bad management. The days of leaving the office to go to a meeting and some one taking a message are gone because we now believe that if we dare to ignore the message or phone call the world will stop, and the result is that we now speak in sentences of 140 characters, or sound bytes.
I look back on the projects I have completed successfully before all of this technology was available, and I look at the project costs and duration of modern-day there is little change. So why cut your margins with endless and mindless idle and unnecessary chatter. It does not make the job go any faster or better.
My last large project was for a major telecom in Anchorage Alaska last year. Of course we had ever gadget under the sun available for communication. The entire project was housed in a cloud and we had live streaming video coverage of the site 24/7. We used video conferencing on a daily basis to keep the stateside based project manager advised every morning regarding our daily activities. Every meeting had 10-20 “key players” on line via cell phone or land line. This was an integral part of the client corporate culture. The benefit was that a lot of people could throw rocks and find reasons to postpone decisions and only a few could actually contribute and almost no body could make a real decision. This is not the world we grew up in. It may change over time but for now and from my perspective real leaders are good listeners but do not hesitate to make unpopular decisions that move project forward.
Jim, I agree with you and I am sure that we will find that much of this instant everything is more a toy than really good management.