Organizational Attention Deficit vs. Technology

By John Plifka

Updated Over a Week Ago

Minute Read

t is easy to see that the use of technology on an individual, organizational, national, and international basis is here to stay because it is so embedded in our way of living.

Because of the rapid pace of advancing technology and an unpredictable future, leadership skills are challenged. Leaders need to know if the organizational vision is right and the mission is properly aligned to achieve the right objectives and goals.

Unless leaders understand and embrace technology, there is the risk of becoming irrelevant. Considering this risk evokes the debate and challenge leaders face regarding the balance of “what is best for the organization” and “what is best for their people.”

Technology Shortcut

Two major issues that are part of this debate are: (1) lacking fundamentals and (2) organizational deficit. Specifically, there seems to be a greater use and reliance on technology to replace fundamental skills such as thinking, reading, and writing.

Regardless of the efficiency technology provides, there are some leadership skills that still require development, practice, and application. For example, thinking, reading, and composition.

Leaders are also contending with rapid environmental change because of newer technology. This leads to continual organizational modifications. In order to remain relevant and ready, leaders at every level must continually change processes and procedures to keep at a steady pace with these continual changes.

Online Technology

Credible Research and Analysis

Leaders are sometimes forced to make strategic and operational decisions based on short-term and less-than-credible research and analysis.

This may shift a leader’s focus to address peripheral situations, distracting their efforts from the main or original vision they were striving toward. This underscores the importance of strategic planning, strategic management, and the importance for credible research and analysis.

When the organizational focus seems to be shifting, leaders need to ask if the effort is in line with the organization’s goals.

If the attention has been shifted to something else, then it is indicative of the leader appropriately aligning the effort or bringing it to an end.

Organizational Attention Deficit

Whether advancing technology is detracting from fundamental skills or causing organizational attention deficit, it creates a paradox. Quite simply, the more efficient and “just in time” capability that technology provides, the more leaders and organizations can actually complete their tasks.

This technology paradox also referred to as the productivity paradox, is something that receives significant attention through research and analysis. But it seems to fall short of anything conclusive, evidenced by society’s continual desire to use more.

Nevertheless, the rate of technological advancements continues to accelerate. Its demand is growing, and the standards and required infrastructure change daily. Prices for software and hardware are falling, but total costs continue to grow.

Though technology can be more efficient and sometimes more effective, it may cost more to implement and sustain the benefits that typically do not immediately show. Leaders must work together to plan effectively to leverage technologies that lessen anxiety, promote change, and maximize cost-effectiveness.

Even some of the best plans are challenged by the status quo.

Attention Deficit  Changing Culture

The Matter of Change

Tried and true practices are obstacles to continuous improvement because at the heart of the process is the matter of change. Quite simply, in order to improve the process, we must change it. And the added aspect of advancing technology makes this more intricate.

According to Kotter, employees that are more comfortable with certainty and structure might thrive under a more standardized work process and possess an “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mentality.

Furthermore, Heifetz, Grashow, and Linsky assert that organizations are the way they are because people in authority and longtime employees want it that way. There is a preference for a world that can be predicted but at the same time where employees can wring their hands about it.

In addition, previous practices may have available data as evidence that backs up claims that the current methods are operating and producing effective results. Interestingly, on the other hand, there are those that are more independent and may dislike the feeling of being micromanaged and resent feeling forced to do their work in specific ways.

Just as a tried and true practice may be an obstacle to continuous improvement, these types of employees may also be an obstacle by not following the strategic plan.

If leaders expect to realize the benefits of technology, they need to more effectively plan. Leaders need to consider all aspects when implementing an approach to managing the changing technology provides and achieve the greatest ROI.

Proper planning enables leaders to mitigate the loss of fundamentals and reduce the organizational deficit while remaining ahead of an impending technology paradox.

How Is Attention Deficit and Technology Aligned?

What has been your experience with organizational attention deficit? Thanks for your comments!

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John Plifka
John Plifka
John currently works for the U.S. Army as a Senior Strategic Analyst. He is a PhD candidate at Northcentral University, holds an MS in National Security Studies from the US Army War College and an MPA from Troy University.
  • Steve Wilberger says:

    Very thought provoking article. Technology in certain functional areas is a must, like PremaVera 6 for project management software. Refocusing the lense of an organization can be difficult, especially if they are government service providers and whose survival is not tied to profits. This takes a combination of forward thinking leadership, combined with the right technological tools to stay current and relevant to their customers. John, great article!

  • Well stated John! I agree with implementation of technology that will inspire change.

    Thanks for sharing.


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