Lurking Luddites, Listen Up

Before you rake me over the coals in the comments, let me say that as a minimalist and someone who personally embraces the concept of simple living without a heavy reliance on technology, these observations pertain solely to business and not a lifestyle.

We’re not a technology company!?

People occasionally proclaim, “We’re not a technology company” when describing their business. The trouble with that mindset is that it’s a recipe for extinction if it spreads too far and infiltrates company culture.

I realize they mean their primary business is not making technology products, and we shouldn’t forget that. But I say, forget that! If they don’t start to think like a technology company, they will fail.

Companies can no longer rely on their size or market share to survive because their competitors consistently work to leap past them in the marketplace. Those who embrace the idea of building technology products within their traditional market will leap forward, becoming more successful. Those that fail to adapt to our changing world will fail.

Embrace your inner startup entrepreneur.

I’ll use one example from my career where this was employed. We leaped ahead of our competition by transforming a small piece of a traditional bank into a technology company. We had just survived Y2K, and there were no all-in-one commercial online banking platforms.

Many banks offered separate online commercial services, but nobody had combined them into a cohesive toolset – exactly what customers needed. My job was to create a design team and design system to unite 80 commercial lines of business under one cohesive digital product. It was the most fun I’ve ever had – at work.

We formed a team inside this giant bank to operate as an Internet startup. It was like a fintech with ample funding, and we built technology products to deliver traditional financial services. It was transformative. Now more than two decades later, this is commonplace and common thinking among industry leaders.

If you don’t evolve, you fail. Knowing how to evolve and meet the changing needs of your customers is the top priority. Connect with your customers and deliver in a way your customer needs.

I am practicing what I preach.

I’ve published three books – very old school, I know. I have noticed a decline in book demand, but I’m pretty sure it’s not the content; it’s the delivery mechanism. People don’t crack open books much anymore. The information in a book might be what people need and want, but the delivery method is wrong for today’s customers.

My next step is to design and develop an augmented reality app combining two books. It will use the design patterns of my Tiny House Design System and empower people to draw Tiny House Floor Plans in 3D inside the houses they create.

In other words, thinking like a technology company, I’m changing how I deliver my content and transforming my content into a digital product that meets the expectations of today. Gone are the days when people want to plow through a 500-page book favoring the ease of clicking, swiping, dragging, and dropping.

Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

When backed into a corner, we often retreat into what we know best, which are experiences from the past. In business, this is a recipe for disaster. Future-proof your thinking by permitting yourself to see yourself and your customers through fresh eyes.

Spend time with customers face-to-face, feel what they feel, and study what you know about them. Avoid turning to tried and true solutions. Your experience will serve you well, but bury your habits deep down. They do you credit, but they could inhibit your innovation. This is the way.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.