One of the nice things about working at Microsoft is the cool speakers that come to visit. I remember a few years ago when a 12 year old prodigy (I don’t remember his name) visited Microsoft to discuss his vision of the tech world and where it was going. After a 1 hour lecture, with slides and a small tailored suit, he opened up the floor to questions and answers. With around 100 Microsoft employees attending, there were lots of questions. He had interesting answers all around. His youthful ambivalence to difficult technical challenges was refreshing. Someone asked a question, and I don’t remember what it was, but I’ll never forget his answer, or at least the beginning of it: “Well, I’m a technologist, so I try to solve every problem with technology…” That introspective understanding of how he attacked problems was very insightful. I began to wonder if I was the same way. Certainly, since that discussion I’ve noticed my tendency to solve everything with technology, but as I get more experience working with different teams I am more and more persuaded, that technology is the least of our challenges.
All around us are routines and tools that everyday people use to solve everyday problems, most of which are not technological solutions. Preeminent among these today are 3M’s humble product the Sticky. People use these so consistently that I am now persuaded that for all of America’s economy to collapse, we need only see 3M stop production of the humble sticky. 😉
There are plenty of solutions to be had and lots of simple problems to be solved, but not all need to, or should be solved with technology. The problem I am now faced with is, how do you distinguish between the two?