A few years ago, I wanted an Audi TT (225bhp for those that care) it is a beautiful car, fast, agile and the envy of my mates. Being six feet 1 inch tall with long legs means that I ended up sitting virtually in the back seat. Turning a four-seater car into a two-seater car was less than ideal.
This story has resonated with me a lot especially as I look at the area of solving difficulties related to neurodiversity (find out what neurodiversity is here) with technological solutions.
Technology-agnosticism is about saying there is ‘no one size fits all for a particular problem. That is not to say that a particular solution cannot solve a problem for many different people it just will not solve it in the same way.
Think about it
It is the difference between an adjustable spanner and a standard spanner. One of them adapts to lots of assorted sizes of bolts with a greater margin for error and the other one fits one size of bolt perfectly but lacks flexibility. The question you always need to be asking yourself is do you even need that flexibility or is it okay to just do one thing perfectly well.
Many technologies, platforms and software products try and do everything for us meaning they can end up not doing anything particularly well, so we need to make bigger compromises. It is easy to be bamboozled with a multitude of tools and promises that these tools can deliver but if we lose sight of the problem that we are trying to solve the danger is we end up with a solution to a problem that does not even exist.
Or to put it another way, a screwdriver to fix your nails in the wall.
This becomes clear when you speak to individuals about the processes they perform and instead of describing what they do they reference the tools they use and how those tools perform the task. On its own, this is not an issue but where it becomes a problem is when the limitations of those tools start defining the process and its boundaries.
Here are some things to think about.
When things stop working
Take a pause and reflect on what it is that the thing that has stopped working is supposed to do. Do not just switch to another app or another piece of technology before you have asked this question as you may well find that something more fundamental has changed either with the environment or the processes you are using.
For example, I like to-do lists and I use a product called Todoist.com it has worked very well for me. Unfortunately, when I started blogging, this platform just did not work for me anymore, so I had to go back and look at what the problem was, and it was to do with the amount of information I wanted to collect within my to-do list. So, I went back to the drawing board to map out what I wanted to achieve and then I was able to select a new software solution that help me solve the problem in this case Trello.
Adapting a process that we use to fit the software tools with which we are lumbered. Are we keeping process components that really should be obsolete because the software demands them? I believe that if you look at your processes through a set of technology-agnostic glasses, you will find improvements and make changes that will simplify things!
Collaborating with a client who had used MS outlook successfully to manage their diary, and who was now finding it did not give them the flexibility they needed to annotate it. This caused a huge amount of anxiety about appointments. The other issue was the client felt they were not in control of their diary. In this instance, the client moved back to a paper-based solution. Now I realise for many reasons this is suboptimal in lots of organisations but for this client, they were able to increase their effectiveness by not being stressed about their diary.
Revolutionising your processes
When evaluating what you are doing or why you are doing it being technology-agnostic allows you to look beyond the constraints of the platforms and software that you are using. It allows you to imagine all the possibilities you might like to carry out, giving you scope to dream big and not have them thwarted by inappropriate tools.
When the shackles of “it’s always been done this way” are broken all sorts of possibilities appear. This is also likely to enable you to move forward and to recognise your potential in terms of what you can achieve and how you are going to achieve it. Inappropriate tools that cause us to carry out actions and use time inefficiently reduce our effectiveness at work. Re-evaluating the tools, we use creates an incredible opportunity to do things differently and to be more effective in our workplaces.
If you would like to explore how to be more technology-agnostic in making decisions around assistive technology, then please get in contact.