Technology, Trends, and Trade-Offs

December 18, 2012 by Wally Bock

It doesn’t matter what the fad/trend of the moment is. In the beginning, it is the sure-fire, long-awaited, never-before-seen solution to just about everything.

Consider “mobile,” a little word that covers a lot and one of today’s hot, make-everything-better fad/trends. Inc. magazine reports that

“Nearly half of all Americans own a smartphone. Globally, mobile users are expected to outnumber desktop users by 2014. And the amount of time we spend on mobile devices is growing fast–currently an average of 82 minutes a day, more than twice the amount of time spent two years ago.”

Those are big  numbers, which encourage grandiose predictions like those embodied in the Mobile Workforce Management Infographic from ClickSoftware.  Check out the graphic and you’ll note that everything gets better, nothing gets worse, and the fad/trend seems to go on forever.

We have a word for this kind of connect-the-dots futurism. The word is “rubbish.”

The most recent reminder of how things really work is caught in this headline: “Bank of America rethinks teleworking.” Coy Davidson lists one reason in a post on his Tenant Advisor blog last year: occupancy costs. The other reason is more human. Sometimes things work better when people are in the same physical space.

Let’s be clear. The bank isn’t abandoning telework. They will still have lots of people who work at home permanently and many others who will do so from time to time. But after several years of teleworking, they’ve discovered that it’s not a one-size-fits-all thing.

That’s how things work in the real world. When everyone is shouting about the great new fad/trend, especially if technology is involved, you need to remember three simple rules.

Anything that seems to be too good to be true is.

In the real world, curves go up and down. Beware of predictions that only go up.

The laws of nature and human nature do not change.

Wally Bock is a coach, a writer and President of Three Star Leadership.

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