Heavy Cognitive Load: Technology Is Making My Head Hurt

I thought, for a while there, that technology had unleashed me on to an unsuspecting world.


I thought, for a while there, that technology had unleashed me on to an unsuspecting world (just ask some of my warier colleagues).

Technology as liberator! Technology that unlocks the door and then, wait for it, steps aside and ushers me through with a polite bow and a knowing wink.

I positively sauntered through, whistling a little ditty.

Yammer was my shiny toy of choice. There were others, and there are still others more. Slack seems to be the butter wouldn’t melt in your mouth app today. No matter which you chose, because it didn’t matter!

The frictionless experience meant that, finally, it was not about the tool, learning the tool, coaxing the tool. It was about you — and what you wanted to do. The tool came along for the ride.

I wore yammer like a bespoke Saville Row suit. It was just for me, made for me, it made me (more whole at work).

Almost overnight, my organization started conversing, communing. The culture changed underfoot. We started to see the opportunity, everywhere. I was the agent of change, the court jester of an emergent culture transformation, the herald of a more agile workplace.

Fast forward >>

And then, yammer was folded into Office 365. A productivity suite of behemoth proportions. A complex thing of beauty. A most marvelous invention, full of whizz-bangs and whirly-gigs. An admirable product, I am the first to admit.

But the cognitive load! The interoperable complicatedness! The full stack solution that requires full-time focus!

I lamented, on the O365 Yammer network. Just…what…I am to do with it?

I used this photo to illustrate my confused state of mind

I added an example O365 experience…

The general feedback from the community of experts and advocates:

Get on with it! Become the O365 expert!

Ah, but woe is mine, people. Once I get a moan-on, it is tough to stop…

The feedback:

PRODUCTIVITY! Become the productivity expert you always wanted to be! Move beyond yammer and change the culture of the organization in a bigger way!

Productivity.

I mulled it over in my mind for a few days…yes, it makes sense. I need to move up the value chain. You can do more on O365 than you can on yammer, so I can add more value in O365.

But what about the WORK!? The cognitive load? Mine, first and foremost. Then, for others?! Gack!

I made a note to myself:

Am I the productivity guy? Do I want to be?
The excitement of Yammer was not about productivity; it was about people, and empowerment.

The most excellent “productivity expert” Steve Nguyen from MSFT shared this graphic with me, in consolation.

And I replied…

And so, here I am.

I have “O365 integration!” as a to-do item and a focus area for the rest of the year. I am both intrigued and optimistic that technology will take us further along the future of work spectrum.

But O365 seems much more like an IT tool than yammer, it is an industrial factory of workflows and processes, of hammering and forging.

In comparison, Yammer is watching reality TV while eating pop-corn and second-screening others’ hashtags. Yammer is fun, it is human (scale), it is person-to-person, it is an invitation to social business and the human(e) workplace.

I don’t want to be talking about technology, to be writing about technology. As my Yammerverse hero Scott Kelley says, the good fight is not about technology, it is about how we organize.

It is a conundrum, and I continue to Scratch-My-Head Out Loud…#SMHOL

←This Much We Know.→


Originally published at thismuchweknow.net on June 20, 2015.

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