We have an unhealthy obsession with tools.
When we have a problem, we immediately try to find a tool to solve it.
Even worse, as we identify new tools we identify (or develop) a problem that it needs to solve.
You hear this when someone learns about a new tool through a friend, or hears about it online.
I heard about TikTok. Everyone is using it. I need to start using it.
We begin to identify new roles for this tool in our lives and lose track of the really important problems that should hold our interest, focus, and attention.
Then, when tools don’t work, people are confused about why the tools they’re invested in aren’t working for them.
Why am I not finding a reason to use TikTok when they seem to be working for others?
Value in Tools
The truth is that technology is a tool. As with all tools, there are practices, skills, and affordances. Affordances are “things the tool is better at doing than others.”
As an example, I was fixing a part on the Jeep last weekend. Specific wrenches would do a better job loosening certain bolts. A screwdriver might help pry something loose. The hammer is only great when you need to convince a rusty part free.
You need to have the skills to use a tool before you can use it properly and have it affect your life in positive ways.
Value in Strategy
As we think about digital transformation, many people have forgotten that tools don’t solve problems. Strategy does.
Strategy is a plan of action or policy designed to achieve a major aim. A strategy describes how the ends (goals) will be achieved by the means (resources).
Strategy is what solves problems. Tools don’t drive results, strategy does.
Don’t invest your attention and resources in tools. Invest them in strategy.
The problem with strategy is that it takes years of hard work and focus to learn.
Focus on Strategy
To address a problem, we need a plan. A strategic technology plan is mainly for organizations as they think about their use of technology. But, this can be easily revised to think about decisions we need to make on a daily basis.
Use the POST process below to guide your thinking:
- People: Who is your intended audience or focus? This may be yourself, another individual, or a community.
- Objectives: What do you want to achieve as you address this problem?
- Strategy: How will you achieve your goals or objectives? How will you address the problem that your audience is experiencing?
- Technology: What resources will you employ to address the problem and the answers from the first three steps?
Chris Brogan says this much more simply by indicating that we should pursue the goal, not the method.