Shiny new toy syndrome

Shiny toyShiny new toy syndrome: assuming a new technology will just fit right in and solve all your problems.

New tools and technology are fun and interesting, but once you get beyond the experimenting stage, please decide how you are going to use that shiny new tool to do the things you need to do. And while this is a good idea for individuals, it is critical as groups and organizations adopt new tools and processes.

I have talked about this idea before, but it bears repeating. Especially when people like my friend Luis Suarez remind us about it as well: . Making Business Sense of Social Media and Social Networking - Twitter For Business:

Remember your email education and email etiquette? ... No? Oh dear ... Not to worry, I don't remember it either! In fact, I never had it in the 14 years I have been using corporate email. No wonder then email gets so abused nowadays! ... Will Social Software follow the same trend? Will social tools suffer from the same destiny of being abused left and right for tasks that they weren't meant to be in the first place, just like we have done with email over the last decade or so? Will social networking tools become our next Pandora's Box, just like email is today for most of us? Well, I surely hope not!

Luis is focusing on Twitter-for-business here, but the examples go far beyond this. One aspect of deciding how you are going to use a new tool (or business process) is also about deciding what you are going to stop doing. How many businesses have multiple tools that do more-or-less the same thing? Have a new file repository service on the intranet to keep everything in a convenient, tagged, findable place? Turn off the file shares that the new service was built to fix.

And not only do we need to decide how we want to use things, but we should reevaluate these decisions from time to time. Just like you check in on other initiatives to make sure you are getting the expected results, check in on these kinds of adoption decisions. Are you still using the technology as you thought you would? Is it having the expected benefits? Have unexpected benefits (or drawbacks) shown up? Do you need to change the approach? For instance, maybe we should stop sending files around on internal email now! (Sorry, one of my pet peeves.)

Please, whatever new idea you have that is going into practice with your team or group or organization, take the time to ponder how you are going to use it, what you are going to stop doing elsewhere, and how it should be (re-) evaluated over time.

[Photo: "Shiny toy" by That HP Chap]

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