Organization follows Technology ? LO13366

William J. Hobler, Jr (
Wed, 23 Apr 1997 12:50:29 -0400

Replying to LO13331 --

Ben Compton cited some interesting and I think accurate data concernig the
influence of technology on white collar work. I can add to the list of
citations recent work by Paul Strassman that indicates that the influence
of technology on white collar business has been to reduce productivity.

Bens perspective on this is. . .

>Nobel Laureate, Lester Thurow observed that
>technology has done little to improve the productivity of the workplace.
>Steven Roach, of Morgan and Stanley has said that technology has had only
>a minor impact on white collar productivity.

>It follows, then, that technology should not drive an organization. In fact,
>I believe that a businesses quest for a technological solution ... is
>of deeper business and organizational challenges. Hence the need and use of
>systems thinking. .

Are we not looking at a reinforcing loop architype here? A new technical
capibility is developed. It is used by an organization. The organization
recognizes that a different capability would be useful. This new
capability is developed. It is used...... and so on.

I might be inclined to add a step in this loop in which the organization
developing the capability advertises and developes a perceived need for
the new capability. This step only makes the reinforcing loop drive the
demand with more force.

I am very inclined to believe that much computer technology is being
placed in the hands of white collar workers which they not only do not
need but do not use. The only winners in this are the developers of the

For instance. Of what use is a 200 Megahertz MMX machine to a secretary
or a bank teller, or any of the millions of white collar workers
processing billions of business transactions every day? I don't know your
experience, but I come across Microsoft Word documents daily that don't
use 10 percent of the power of that program, and shouldn't have to. I am
sure that Intel and Microsoft don't have the same view.

Would I advocate breaking the reinforcing loop? Not at all. As we fill
the earth with humans we must use technology to sustain ourselves and our
societies. However, we must use technology more intelligently and as we
do we will change our culture. It would be good for these changes to
produce a gentler, more humane culture. I am with Ben, this is a placce
for systems thinking at all levels.



"William J. Hobler, Jr" <>

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