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Technology has grown up...now we need to do the same

Our relationship with technology reminds me of a parent's relationship with a new child. After birth, parents marvel at the new life with wonder and amazement. Once the honeymoon period ends, they realize the child can be a bit troublesome and even has the capability to push-back. And as the child grows into a full-fledged person, parents and children evolve simultaneously and adapt on the fly.

I've worked with many different clients to study how people work with technology and adapt to the changes that it brings about, and what I've come to conclude is, quite frankly, we suck at it.

This presents a real problem, because as uncertain economic conditions force companies to cut travel budgets at the same time they are pursuing new business ventures in foreign countries, virtual relationships that span cultural boundaries (aka those enabled by technology) are going to become increasingly prevalent. These relationships will live at the crux long-lasting partnerships that help us grow our businesses.

I spoke about this topic at a TEDx event. So without further ado, here is my take on human beings' evolving relationships with technology, why each form of virtual communication requires its own syntax, and my love of beer can chicken.

Gervais Tompkin
Gervais Tompkin chooses to be optimistic. He thrives on collaborations with others and is more likely to diagram it than talk about it. His practice as a leader of Gensler’s consulting practice allows him to work with interesting people on worthy problems globally. Contact him at gervais_tompkin@gensler.com.

Reader Comments (1)


Great video. This topic is becoming extremely important; both the weave between personal life and work life and then elevating to business communications in the virtual world. I am in the 90% range I think of virtual contact. We never meet clients and rarely consultants in our office. The big get togethers are at the actual project sites- where the inanimate objects that we direct our attention to cannot communicate back!

I find the layering in these communications between people who are tecno savvy and those who are not, those who are resistant [to technology] and those who are not, those who are well-spoken on a conference call and those who are not, and those who communicate effectively in all forms of writing and those who are not, the most challenging. Each day is a challenge to mine these layers of understanding in the virtual communications as much as the content. As an architect you know what I mean- communicating with designers, drafters, contractors, clients, client-users, engineers, etc. These are people of all walks life with different education, perspectives, and objectives and the fine-line gets very blurry. To be effective one must become the zen-master of techno-pshcyo-understanding of people.

....and then decide how to process and organize hundreds of emails a day. Twitter, Facebook, hash-tags, blogs,...what's that??

Keep up the good work!

08.6.2012 | Unregistered CommenterEric Kleiner

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