Technology: friend or foe?

Adeline Teoh ed.
February 24, 2012

Does technology make projects easier to do or does it cause more frustration than it’s worth? When we talk about IT projects, why do so many people bring up the damning statistics about mass IT project failure? If a tree falls in the woods…

I led a Socratic discussion the other day on whether technology enhances connectedness in today’s society or creates a disconnect. We initially spent a bit of time debating the different terms with definitions as broad as ‘technology is anything humans have ever invented’ and ‘connectedness is any contact or interaction between one or more parties’. Then the group used different examples to illustrate the idea that technology is a factor in both connectedness and disconnectedness; I did say I used the Socratic method, which encourages more questions than answers and a lot of fence-sitting.

The one area we all agreed upon, however, was the word ‘create’. While technology can enhance (connectedness or anything else you care to mention), technology does not create (disconnectedness… or problems)—society does that to itself. The closest thing to a conclusion we came to was stating that technology was an enabler that neither created connectedness or disconnect but allowed individuals to do so.

At this point I began thinking about the differences between success and failure in projects and articulated something I think I already knew: it isn’t about technology, or tools, as a friend or foe but whether they are put to appropriate use. A hammer makes a poor flotation device, but a good way to push nails through wood; however don’t try that trick with the nails using an inflatable lounge.

So why are so many organisations so bad at managing their human resources? Why is there so much emphasis on processes and practices within an organisation, within a project, and less on whether the people in the team can perform the job and, most importantly, whether they are willing to perform?

This is the question Benoit Hardy-Vallée addresses in his two articles ‘The cost of bad project management‘ and ‘Emotional engagement and project success‘, which are worth a read in tandem if you are interested in this aspect yourself.

On a related note, how much do you value team members with project management qualifications? We’ve just completed our Professional Project Management survey and from the more than 1,500 responses we’ve received, it appears that many of you are keen to see some form of tertiary study as a prerequisite for project management roles.

We’re going to keep the survey open until the end of the month to pick up any stragglers who haven’t yet thrown in their two cents, but we’ve already begun collating the results and will have a more comprehensive report for you all next month. Until then, let’s ponder the big questions… like what to have for dinner tonight.

Author avatar
Adeline Teoh ed.
Adeline Teoh is the editor of She has more than a decade of publishing experience in the fields of business and education, and has specialised in writing about project management since 2007.
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