This is an article I wrote for a newsletter at work last year.
Making the Net Work (folks who have been working with community technology for a long time) have developed this simple chart to show "how new technology without a new approach can just cause additional problems." The chart shows the change from old to new technology on the up-down axis, and the change from old to new strategies on the left-right axis. The ideal place to be is on the top right, using new approaches along with new tools.
But we often get stuck in the "technology trap." Who hasn’t experienced this…
• You have a website but it’s never updated.
• You received a donated computer, printer, scanner, or software package, but don’t know how to use it.
• The leaders of your organization can’t or won’t use computers and shared online tools.
• The few people who understand technology lord it over others.
• Your colleagues can’t or won’t share information with each other efficiently or are suspicious of technical solutions.
The "technology trap" is what happens when we update our technology without updating our approach. This is shown in box #3 in the chart: new technology with old approaches. Of course when you are struggling for adequate funding, you may also find yourself in box #2: new approach with old technology.
Which one describes your organization? What will it take to get you to box #4: realizing your potential? The single most important thing you can do is to create a technology plan. The plan can help you: create a vision for effective use of technology, budget and prioritize, impress funders, and give the entire staff, board, and volunteers a critical opportunity to feel invested in the proposed organizational changes that go hand-in-hand with new technology.