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Technology & Change: Posturing for Survival

November 14, 2009

The process of change, by nature, is one designed to move people from one state to another. Generally, humans react to change poorly and unless change management efforts or change development is undertaken systematically and over time, change efforts will fail. Diffusions of innovations, especially technological innovations, are difficult to entirely affect (Rogers, 2003) and sometimes require a series of adoptions before transfer is complete. The rate at which people accept change is positively correlated with the rate at which people accept technological change and it is no surprise that even after a number of people are already “on board” some a particular development, there are still a few hold outs.

Because change requires a fair amount of trust and imagination, it stands to reason that technological changes are even more difficult to affect. For instance, after 9/11, the need to ramp up security facilitated by technology was heightened and the goal was to introduce new technology that served its purpose without creating more problems than it was supposed to solve (LePoire & Glenn, 2007). The mixture of benefits and risks must be considered not only by those who develop new technologies but by those who are expected to adopt those new technologies. Halal (2008) argues that the need for technology given the current economic and social conditions the world faces requires that people set aside their concerns about technology and come together to solve problems. While Halal’s (2008) view is reasonable, the reality is that people are fearful of change and can only act upon adoption of technological change to the extent that they can relate to it. Further, the frame of reference (i.e. good experiences or bad experiences) that someone has had will undoubtedly shape the way they view future change situations.

Along these lines, Halal (2008) argues that the world is heading for a global crisis of maturity that is similar to an adolescent heading into adulthood. Halal (2008) points out it is a critical time in which great care should be taken to fully understand how technology can solve problems and how it should be used to avoid the secondary issues it might create. Halal (2008) states there are three possible paths to maturity including pessimism, optimism and “most likely” with each path representing schools of thought about what the future will look like. Using an analogous statement that “fear stems from lack of understanding”, Halal (2008) posits that based upon civilization’s ability to embrace change at a more rapid rate based upon positive outcomes, the problems the world faces right now can indeed be solved.

References
Halal, W. (2008). Emerging Technologies and the Global Crisis of Maturity. The Futurist, 43(2), 39-46. Retrieved February 23, 2009, from Research Library database. (Document ID: 1643565791).

LePoire, D., & Glenn, J. (2007). Technology and the Hydra of terrorism? Technological Forecasting and Social Change, 74(2), 139-147.

Rogers, E. (2003). Diffusion of Innovations (5th ed.). New York: Free Press, A Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.

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