I really owe it all to Miss Mackie, former headmistress of the City of London School for Girls. Once a week she instructed our class of energetic 11-year olds in English literature, keeping us pinned silently to our desks by force of her imposing presence. The book open in front of us was John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, an allegorical tale from the 17th century that is apparently such a significant work of literature that it has never been out of print.
Try telling that to a bunch of squirming 11-year olds. I don’t remember much about the book, but the places that the hero Christian visited along the way obviously etched themselves deep into my psyche. The “Slough of Despond” was clearly the inspiration for the “Trough of Disillusionment” on the Hype Cycle, so I though it might be worth looking back to see if some of the other locations on Christian’s journey offer us any insight into the side roads and less-traveled paths of the technology pilgrimage.
Doubting Castle – those top executives who never exhibit the enthusiasm you’d hoped for. The only way out according to Bunyan is the key “Promise” – commit to what you can deliver, but keep it realistic.
The Valley of Humiliation – to avoid that “oh @$%&, my project’s a disaster” sensatation, make sure you evaluate the real benefit to your organization rather than being driven by external hype, and re-evaluate periodically as you learn more (see next entry).
Wicket Gate – pilgrims can only enter the straight and narrow path to the Celestial City through this gate. Innovators should use their own “stage gate” process to build in decision points about which innovations to continue with and which to put on hold until they mature further.
What else should we watch out for in the technology adoption landscape?