Monday, September 23, 2013

Being savvy about your technological limitations

It's okay to not know. I meet some persons who wear it like a badge. They will proudly state that they are clueless about smart phones or Gmail or insert some other technological thing. Declaring your hand is okay, in fact having an accurate assessment of your capabilities is extremely valuable when working in teams as it frees you to draw on the strengths of other team members.

Start By Admitting It

Being savvy about your limitations starts with admitting them. If you are in a pivotal management position it is even more vital to those who you manage that you are honest about where you stand in this area. Once you have gotten beyond any form of denial, here are two simple practices that will make your team three times more efficient.

Communicate Intent

If you are working with colleagues who are more technically inclined than you, always consider the possibility that there is a better solution than the one in your head.  Since you may be blind to the solution, you really want to give them space to execute more efficiently by sharing intent instead of specifics. For example if you need a co-worker to communicate with one of your partners, instead of saying “send them a fax” emphasize your intention, which is to get a message to the partner. By communicating intent it gives those around you the ability to recommend the best solution.

 Most team members stand ready to support the goals of the team once clearly articulated.
The idea of communicating intent seems obvious,  yet I continue to observe wrong outcomes that well-intentioned managers have imposed on their organizations. Individuals end up spending two to three times more effort on tasks because a manager insisted on an outdated approach rather than communicating the end goal. One concrete example is how contact information is managed across an organization. It is still far too common to find organizations that are managing contact information, inventory or other critical data in an Excel spreadsheet. While this is certainly more efficient than pen and paper, there are better approaches. Many of them are cloud-based and may even be familiar to some of the employees of those organizations.

Improve Your Game

There really is no reason to stay where you are now. Look for opportunities to be exposed to new developments. Have conversations with your more technologically adept acquaintances to keep a pulse of how new developments may impact your field or organization. Listen to both sides of a technology argument for example Apple vs Microsoft or Cloud vs on-premises. And finally, of course, (shameless plug), do a knowledge session with Tutorate. In the end, your roadmap to being tech savvy begins with being savvy about your technological limitations.


  1. nice post David. As someone who has managed before I can understand why sometimes you have to lay out what needs to get done, I've been in situations where pen & paper was used instead of an email (using your analogy) and when that happens you, the manager, now you have two problems undoing what was done and then teaching the 'better' way to do it.


  2. I totally didn't think about the other side of the coin, managing a team, communicating intent and having things implemented in ways that are technically inferior.