Are We Going too Fast?

I want to say I love technology and the challenges we face due to its rapid change. There will always be more to learn, and that keeps me from getting bored. In fact, it would be fair to say that my career has become my hobby because I truly enjoy finding new ways to enhance people’s lives through technology.

I often find that the pace at which most projects need to get out the door prevents us from shipping something that matches our vision. We skimp on the time spent understanding what users need, implement the minimum functionality required, or miss details because we simply had to move too fast to keep up with them all. We watch it go out the door proud of what we accomplished but knowing we wanted to do better.

A lot of us attempt to make up for this by working more hours or running as fast as we can every moment we’re in the office. It makes up a bit of the gap, but makes us vulnerable to burnout, divorce and illness. Not exactly what you want for your most valuable talent.

What is driving us too keep up this speed? I remember when I first started my career “Speed to market” was the mantra. I truly don’t know of business leaders still consider being the first to bring an idea to market is more important than bringing quality to market, but the pressure is still there. I do agree that timing is critical when you put your product out there. Just look at the recent upswing in flickr usage. They released a much needed app revamp right after Instagram made an announcement that turned off their users. That may be the best bit of timing in business history.

The other factor that sets the pace of a project is how many hours of labor someone is willing to pay for to create it. Whether you are working in house for internal clients or at an agency for customers, an agreement has to be reached on how many dollars will be spent toward that project. And dollars=time.

Are we undervaluing what we deliver? Should businesses take more care with the technology they put into the marketplace? I truly don’t know. When we look at all of the possibilities to improve business and provide valuable experiences to consumers through technology, most industries are woefully behind where we’d like them to be. So many opportunities are not seized because of lack of time and budget. If we slow down, this situation gets even worse.

Perhaps, the issue isn’t a lack of time or money, it’s how it’s spent. Companies need to bring their budget priorities up to date. Organizations continue to spend more money on ineffective, outdated advertising techniques such as print or direct mail and none on content for their online presence. If they matched their spending to their value streams, there would be much more money to spend on technology. More funding, equals more people working toward your goal.

That brings up another variable in the equation, the talent shortage. There aren’t enough people with the skills needed to do the work we want to do. Even if there was money to pay for them, you can’t find people who are able to do that work.

Where does that leave us? Our industry is a passionate lot, frequently willing to spend extra hours to see that the quality is delivered or to push the envelope. The speed at which technology has been advancing is due to that passion. Perhaps the most viable solution is that we channel that passion into training the next generation and fix the talent shortage. Many hands make light work.