I had about a month of watching Minority Report when it was first available on HBO some years ago. I loved the possibilities the technology of the future it presented and the struggle to align a process for its use. Classic Cruise on display throughout the film. He is a model for physical action serving as a metaphor for mental consideration. The angst, the nuances, the pain.
While at #HRTechConf in Las Vegas this week, the challenge of approach to technology has been front and center. Our knee-jerk discernment path is usually to find something, plug it in and hope it make things better. When it doesn’t, we call the vendor and complain. We recall the demo and wonder why our experience is far from what we saw. We share our annoyance with our peers; we tweet out passive-aggressive faux-toughness. It’s frustrating for all.
The Women in Technology portion of the HR Tech Conference is truly my favorite part, and this year did not disappoint. One of the panel discussions started with a basic fallacy of technology for work – having a current work process that you’d like to pepper with tech to make it better. At first, the thought made sense to me. I mean, that’s why we buy tech. We want a better flow, easier effort, and time to be returned to us. They’re not bad desires.
When the Precogs from Minority Report have a gift (a technology) to tap into, lawmakers jump into action to add it to law enforcement. They saw the benefit it could bring and went for it. Without testing it fully, especially in areas of bias, as well as a lack of consideration around accountability, the process of enforcement became compromised. Why? Because the technology was not meant to fit into the basic process already in place. It had the opportunity to enlarge it, to forge a new path, to approach problems differently. Process and technology are each independent but are meant to work interdependently.
Gretchen Alarcon, from Oracle, drove this point home during the “AI, Blockchain and VR” session. When looking at technology, we must consider where the tech will take us. Countless initiatives fail because we want to season what we’re already doing with tech. And further, we miss out on the robust opportunities that technology might give us. We ought to have a macro view of it, even if the investigation starts with a micro-problem.
In human resources, we tout ourselves as people developers. We do this by understanding our people, knowing what each can do and helping to forge a path of growth, application and advancement. Why should our approach to technology be any different? Good application should not be about what’s trending. Do you really need text recruiting technology? Do you have to have Snapchat for your brand? Do you need VR as part of your learning management system? Or do you want these things so you can say you have them? That does not sound very development-oriented. It sounds insecure.
If you need technology for an issue at hand, look for it. But when you find it, consider all of what it is and how it’s meant to impact process, not merely fit into the process you have. And if you’re at the point where you have to pull your eyeballs out because of the technology you’ve put into place, it’s not too late to start again. Never take your eyeballs out. No tech is worth that.