How do your tools shape you and your customer?
We work with tools. Tools work back.
It is not precisely true that our tools train us. More to the point: our tools sometimes wake dormant skills. Our tools help us exercise muscles we’ve not used so much: for instance, my running shoes help me exercise a different set of muscle than my bicycle typically requires. I know this because I have different pains after using each. An axe requires differing coordination skills than a hammer, which is also different from a ratchet.
Current social media tools exercise our collaboration muscles. From Facebook and Twitter we began to see that collaborating is fun. And we start to look forward to working together. It now feels good use those muscles and skills. It feels productive.
So when we require each other to sit silently in a long meeting, well, that doesn’t feel so good anymore. Or when we tell our employees or our congregation to go do this thing without asking for their input and experience—that just won’t fly anymore. And if we expect our customers to buy whatever we sell with no questions, well, that model has been dead for some time (the cult of Apple comes to mind as one exception).
David Straus in his practical and interesting How to Make Collaboration Work (San Francisco: Berrett-Kohler Publishers, 2002) rightly labels this a matter of human dignity:
People who are directly affected by an issue deserve to be able to express their opinions about it and have a hand in formulating a solution. (46)
How are the current tools changing the expectations of your client, customer or congregation?