Time and Change
People do not change at the same rate as technology, tools, or systems. It’s way easier to tweak an algorithm than a human expectation or habit.
We, humans, seek stable, consistent, predictable environments because they are safer and more comfortable, even if they are semi-delusional. The entire universe changes every moment. People we love die. Babies are born. Babies somehow end up in high school. And aeroplane seats shrink in the air.
On the micro level, you just lost a couple hairs and some cells, your blood is now in a different place than when you started reading this sentence, and you are getting a little bored and wondering where I am going with this because you got the point 30 words ago.
Things change all the time.
Knowing this often feels worse. It’s confusing. The world I want is simple and controllable. The reality is anything can happen and nothing stays the same. It seems more intellectually sound to acknowledge reality as it is instead of how I want it to be. But that also involves noticing and managing a whole lot of information I was free to ignore before.
This is the dilemma almost all employees face dealing with technology at work.
This is new. My hammer, needle, thread, and teapot are still the same as they were hundreds of years ago. I get software updates every week. Often daily.
This is creating a disconnect between people and our tools. Humans change far more slowly than our tools. We need time to learn and get used to things. While tools are new, they are difficult because we have to pay attention to everything, figure it out, and understand a different method or path.
Technology does not really save us time or effort until we know how to use it. Then it begins to feel seamless and is just how the work gets done. Until then, it feels like the work itself — the not fun, doesn’t get the real work done, stressful, pain in the neck kind of work.
When the new programs, tools, and updates are relentless, pretty soon it feels like all we do is learn new programs, tools, and systems. Our days are made up of clicking on the wrong thing, losing our place, taking training, and redoing all the work we put in the wrong place, using the wrong code, for the thing that isn’t even a thing.
We need to start adapting the tech and tools to humans. Before we add or change software, we need to take into account all the other changes people are going through at work and the time it takes humans to adjust.
With software updates, we need to consider how much it changes how we use the tool, whether it affects customized functions, and how much time and effort it will take people to adapt. Real people time, not already-know-how-to-use-it time.
Otherwise, employees are faced with a relentless parade of changes to their fundamental work tools and how they do the work. The result is the real work of the organization is not getting done well or quickly.
It is so important to take into account the time and work involved in change when evaluating the benefits of any new program or tool. It is frustrating, dispiriting, and expensive when the software that is supposed to help us just becomes the work.