What is Technology? By Scott Williams, CEO and Founder, Maga Design, Inc.

In the 1984 press release announcing the first Macintosh Advanced Personal Computer, Steve Jobs touted: “Macintosh easily fits on a desk, both in terms of its style of operation and its physical design . . . It takes up about the same amount of desk space as a piece of paper. With Macintosh, the computer is an aid to spontaneity and originality, not an obstacle. It allows ideas and relationships to be viewed in new ways. Macintosh enhances not just productivity, but also creativity.”

It’s just over 30 years later, and time has showed that in many ways, Jobs’ words ring true.  It would be impossible to quantify the units of productivity and creativity generated by Mac and other personal computing products, which includes a range of applications, and devices from tablets to phones, and everything in between.  Technological advancements are making us smarter, better, faster, and more connected every day.

And yet, we are in some ways feeling the burden of technology.  There is a lot of buzz about the need to unplug because of the overwhelming volume of information.  Technology, in some instances, actually limits productivity by making distractions more readily available, and detachment from other human beings easier to sustain (I’m looking at you, social media).  There are many forms of technology that actually interfere with our ability to exchange information, resulting in “Death by PowerPoint.”

But blaming the technology is too easy.  Technology isn’t the problem.  By definition, technology is “anything that you make in order to solve a problem, to improve upon existing technology, to achieve a goal, or to perform a specific function.”  By that logic, a pen and paper can be the most innovative form of technology available to you if you’re using it in the right way.  If you’re feeling like technology is failing you, ask yourself — am I just doing it wrong?

I work with hundreds of clients in the IT space, from the CIO of a major government agency in Washington to agile developers right here in Charleston. Most of the time, the problem isn’t technology. The problems are things like decision paralysis, misinformation, or lack of information altogether. These aren’t technology problems: these are human behavior problems.

Those who are truly successful in this Big Data, agile development, rapid prototyping world approach the use of technology like an orchestra conductor. I leverage existing technology, like graphic facilitation, design software, and custom interfaces, to help people and groups to map out their goals and identify the things they have to accomplish (or overcome) in order to achieve success. My technology doesn’t live in a single device or application. It’s a way of weaving together applications, tools, devices, information, and images to drive human behavior. Don’t focus on the symptom, which may be rooted in some form of technology, focus on the root cause of your problem — people.  And use technology to get them all to play in perfect harmony. This approach itself is a form of technology, and there are no minimum system requirements for it to function, perfectly.

Post authored by Scott Williams, Founder and CEO of MAGA Design for the Dig South Conference in Charleston, SC this week.

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