Toys Need To Be Played With

I finally got around to unpacking two Christmas presents this past weekend. Lest you think I was ungrateful for these gifts, please know I am not. They were from “Santa” and considering I am the woman in the jolly man’s costume, these gifts were definitely “on my list.” But I’ve been sick so the two presents have just sat there in my living room, waiting to be used.


Gazing at them in my fever induced stupor made me think of the many things that get purchased in the workplace that are never used:

  • Headsets
  • Ergonomic keyboards
  • 3-ring binder dividers
  • Calendars
    And, you should know by now where I’m headed with this…
  • Audio/Video Equipment and Collaborative Technology


Organizations spend oodles of dollars on interactive white boards, video conferencing equipment, and subscriptions to ensure real time meetings, brainstorming and file sharing can occur whenever the spirit moves us! Yet each year, I am certain many of these “solutions” are going “unpacked,” meaning they are left unused or are very much under-utilized.


I’ve been at The Chariot Group for just over two months and I have developed a few ideas as to why these “presents” go unwrapped.


Wrong People Procuring

The people who needed a problem to be solved were probably NOT the ones who decided on the solution. This disconnect almost always results in the solution not being used because, hello, it solves a problem that didn’t exist in the first place and why on earth would a team fix what is not broken?

What should you do?

You should empower the users who have the problem to research technological solutions. This could mean a simple Internet search and “debrief” to the powers that be, it could mean allowing some time to meet with a vendor or manufacturers, or it could mean identifying a joint user/procurement committee.

Regardless of the formality or “paper trail” needed to support the investment, organizations must start involving the users in the purchasing decisions.


Lack of Training

People can’t capitalize on these investments unless they know how to use them. While some products are easy to use, many other products, while impressive, are not intuitive enough to be easily utilized without training.

What should you do?

You should take the time to train the staff who are likely to use it. You wouldn’t want the person who installed the accounting software to be the only one trained to use it, would you? Of course not! 

Instead, you would identify a subject matter expert or lead user and charge him/her with training others.Or you would pool your users together and have the broker or manufacturer train them on how to use it. At the very least, you would expect your users to read the instruction manual, watch the tutorials, network with other users, etc.


Egos are Strong

We don’t like to look stupid and the dislike of idiocy is amplified when we are in front of our peers, our supervisors and/or leadership. That being said, if we aren’t certain that the technology will make us look better, we’ll stay within our comfort zone and go without it.

What should you do?

You should a) train them as I suggested you do above and b) open up these rooms for play.

What I mean is don’t reserve these “techie” spaces for certain people and don’t lock down these rooms and treat them with kid gloves. People need to get comfortable using these tools and a way to speed this along is to model it for every meeting, play with it for all sorts of reasons, and otherwise get people over their fear of looking stupid.


China Shop Mentality

It is a rare employee who immediately dives into the technology arena so the majority of the workforce is going to be afraid to touch anything. Half of the employees who dive in and start touching stuff end up screwing something up because they don’t know what they don’t know. This results, of course, in validating the fear of breaking it so more people shy away.

What should you do?  

First and foremost, don’t worry! The truth is that most audiovisual technology is pretty durable and designed for the unfamiliar user. I have only been the industry a short while but I am fairly certain none of them have a self-destruct button. Moreover, from what I hear from our service team, it is usually the super users who reap the most havoc by changing settings and controls just to see what will happen. And while inconvenient, even this kind of thing can be corrected without damage to the technology and only a bit of harm to the ego.


Dinosaurs Amongst Us

Whether the collaborative solution was an interactive whiteboard, flat screen, two-way projector, camera/microphone, or software application, it will eventually become outdated, archaic or irrelevant. Technological solutions demand our attention and need to be overhauled, renewed or otherwise updated on a regular basis or they will quickly become useless.

What should you do?  

May I suggest you deal with it?  Everything wears out; buildings, carpet, cars, tools or any resource eventually reach the end of their life cycle. Isn’t this why accountants invented depreciation and write-offs? Technology “wears out” by becoming obsolete. We can debate the environmental, fiscal or emotional impact of this but it doesn’t change the fact that obsolescence in technology is no different than the company van that has one too many miles on it. There will come a time when investment in something new is going to serve you better than limping along with something old.


It has taken me a few days to get this post finalized and in that time, I have unwrapped those two Christmas presents I told you about earlier. They were purchased by myself so I got what I wanted. I read the manuals and explored some YouTube videos to learn how to use them. I tried them out and, while I fumbled quite a bit, I have become “less clunky” when using them. I will use them as they are intended and, if they break, it’ll be because I used them hard and got my money’s worth! And finally, I accept there will come a time when having something better or more efficient will outweigh any loyalty or nostalgia I have with them.


I think there is great benefit in using the same philosophies with the toys we buy at work, and Lord knows what will await us under the tree next year!



Heather Kinzie

Heather serves as the Director of Consulting Services for The Strive Group. Bringing more than 20 years of organizational and workforce performance experience with her, she knows all too well that ineffective communication and collaboration often hinder business success. She recognizes there is a plethora of hardware and software solutions/tools available and is determined to learn as much about them as possible while sharing physical offices with her sister company, The Chariot Group. Join Heather as she shares her “ah ha” moments in her blog, “From Here to Epiphany” and gain from her other insights into how you, your team or your organization can better improve team and organizational performance. Read Heather's full bio.

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