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Technology — Friend or Foe?

In the July 2012 issue of Bits and Pieces on Leadership, James R. Houghton, former Chairman of the Board of Corning Incorporated, is quoted as saying, “To be a leader today, you better make technology your friend…whoever ‘obsoletes the existing’ wins.” Gorilla glass from Corning is what I am typing on while composing this on my iPad 2. Navistar this week decided to follow the rest of the industry and use SCR (Selective Catalytic Reduction) with Urea to clean up NOx from its diesel engines after spending years and hundreds of millions of dollars to get EGR (Exhaust Gas Recirculation) alone to meet emissions regulations. Time and time again, people and companies hold on to a comfortable existence and get passed by as technology relentlessly progresses, creating new opportunities all the time. Just think of all the changes that have occurred with how we make payments. As a kid I walked several blocks to the bank with my mother to pay the mortgage and utility bills. Now I am upset if I cannot get on-line at 11:59pm and pay something at the very last minute. I already pay for Starbucks regularly with an app. Soon there will be even more such things. Some have forecast the demise of paying by cash. And yet, there is still a small group of people bartering and issuing their own city currencies. Do you give your children an allowance to help them learn to deal with money and understand its value? You might actually issue them a debit card and have them learn to handle invisible, plastic money.  While I have read that all management issues are people issues, part of me knows that some of it is people not being able to deal with the constant change demanded by technology. Hold on to values, but adapt how you do things as technology advances.