Yes, the title ‘when is technology bad for innovation’ is deliberately provocative. As illogical as it may seem, technology without constraint harms our ability to be innovative.
Before I go any further, I am not opposed to technology and in fact am the Chief Strategy & Product Officer for Wazoku, responsible for the product vision for our innovation management platform. I love the promise of technology and willingly try new things that have not yet made it into the mainstream. I wrote this article using a smart pen that allows me to write ‘old school’ with pen and paper and then upload and transcribe my words, with a good degree of accuracy; I know that technology and technological innovations are positive overall. So, you might be asking, why am I asking when technology is bad for innovation?
My scepticism comes from the growing observation that we often short circuit conversation and debate by defaulting to technology for quick answers. It’s not because the answer is unknown or the end result might be different if we didn’t ‘google it’; often the answer is incontrovertible. Rather the act of trying to convince someone who disagrees, sharing knowledge or teaching something new, is getting lost with instant access to the ‘right answer’. Innovation necessitates that we all develop and maintain these skills, or we unnecessarily limit our ability to innovate.