I thought we were further ahead than we are. There’s so much technology around us that fear of tech should be fading away.
But recently, I’ve had conversations with different people, each of whom explained how hard it was to motivate their people to change. The biggest issue holding them, and the organizations the belonged to, back was fear of technology.
Who’s afraid? Journalists who were afraid of blogging or even carrying a laptop even though their jobs and the future of the industry depended on it. Members of marketing departments who refused to learn or even support online initiatives even though they were making themselves obsolete. Students who, even though they spent most of their time in front of a computer/cell phone/iPod/video games, turned to Jell-O and ran away at the thought of learning something about technology.
The funny thing is, some of these issues aren’t really about technology at all. They’re about communication and interaction. But to the beginner, all he or she hears is “TECHNOLOGY.”
Talk about an irrational fear. Our whole lives revolve around technology. Our refrigerators beep when we leave them open, our cars run on electronics, and we use the DVR and computer all day. Why are people so afraid even though they use technology every day?
It would be great if we could ban the word TECHNOLOGY. Just ban it. Remove it from Wikipedia and everywhere else. We wouldn’t even have to replace it.
Would anything change? Probably not. I think TECHNOLOGY is a code word for FAILURE. What people are saying is “I’m afraid of failing at something new.” It doesn’t matter that the same people learn new things every day. Somehow, failing at technology feels visible, whereas failing your Econ 101 test does not.
For those of you faced with reorienting your work force, I have some advice:
- Stop teaching technology. At least at first. You’ll get to it, but don’t start there.
- Teach Improvisation. The art of improvisation relies on saying, “YES.” As soon as you say “NO” the improv stops. This is amazing training, not only for learning new things but for building relationships as well. If you teach your people to improvise, you’ll prepare them for anything.
- Teach failure. That’s right, you have to teach people it’s okay to fail. It’s probably the best lesson anyone can learn. We have a group named Cirkus Smirkus here who train kids to become circus performers. It’s amazing watching these kids perform. While they train them to succeed, they teach them to fail. That’s because in every performance, those kids are going to either drop something, fall off of something, tumble, stumble and mess up. And when they do, Cirkus Smirkus teaches them to put a big smile on their face, applaud, and go do it again. That’s why those kids are so great.
Once you’ve gotten this far, then you can start teaching technology, online, or whatever. You’ll take away the fear factor and can teach curious and adventurous minds. It still might not be that easy, but it will be far easier than before.
A post by Daniel Pink called The Cult of Done inspired me to write this. I especially liked Step four:
4. Pretending you know what you’re doing is almost the same as knowing what you are doing, so just accept that you know what you’re doing even if you don’t and do it.