Last weekend I attended my college reunion. My 400+ classmates have done a lot of different things, so attending reunion means I get to hear about a lot of different lifestyles and issues. Within their ranks is the current Massachusetts Attorney General, lawyers, two former members of the U.S. House of Representatives (Indiana and Hawaii), high school teachers, an editorial cartoonist, physicians, the owner of Orvis (the oldest mail-order retailer in the U.S.), architects, a Vice Chairman of J.P. Morgan Chase credited with inventing the syndicated loan, and the owner of a coffee company (Dean’s Beans).
Reunion is also a place to learn that most people–even those highly intelligent–are pretty vague about high tech. They want to get their work done and really aren’t that interested in the technical nuts and bolts. A classmate who’s a high school teacher told me, “I’m never getting a smartphone. When I have to do something complicated with my computer I just turn to the person next to me and say, ‘Here, you do it.’” Before my last reunion five years ago, I had a classmate call me to ask how to print out a page from the class website.
So besides being a mental recharge, reunion is also a place to be reminded that IT is not the center of the universe. This is a useful lesson to keep in mind when IT people get so wrapped up in debating technology that they lose sight of the ultimate goal: to help business people be more productive.