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Technology is full of great expectations. We expect it to make our lives easier and our businesses run more smoothly. Most don’t think about how software is designed to work. However, when it fails to meet our expectations, costs us time or money, or causes rather than fixes our problems we become frustrated. That’s fair.
But this frustration, I’ve learned, also exists when our expectations are off base and fail to align with the technology’s specifications. This doesn’t get us very far or solve our problems. I recently experienced frustration of this kind on an international flight. I expected that at 10,000 feet I would hear two dings meaning that I could whip out my laptop and get online. When I didn’t have Internet access I was annoyed. I didn’t know how the technology worked; I just expected it to. Since I couldn’t log on I had plenty of time to think about technology and expectations. I took a step back and thought about why I didn’t have Internet access, like the fact that I just crossed into Mexico and the service only works in the continental United States, or that this technology is driven by cell towers that limits to their reach. My expectations were built on faulty thinking.
To be an effective user of technology, great expectations must be balanced with an understanding of what the specific technology enables us to do. This is where having a relationship with technology providers is key. Instead of tossing out a great product or wasting your time and energy feeling frustrated, maintain a running dialogue about how your software is working for you, be clear about your expectations, and expect your providers to show you the ropes. This burden of setting expectations falls to both the provider of the technology and the end user of the technology.