Technogeekaphobia: Scourge of the Age of Technology

The Age of Technology in the 21st century is one of unbound creativity, promise, and power. Each day, more people have access to more information than at any previous time in history, any previous time in history, that is, including the previous morning.


Moore’s Law, stating that the power of a CPU (the number of transistors per square inch) would double every year (Moore, Gordon 1965), only hints at the profound, radical, and exponential growth of the human capacity to utilize technology in ways that were the stuff of fantasy a only few scant years before. Today, Artificial Intelligence, Robotics, Virtual Reality and Biometrics are in common use in our cars, our homes, and even in medical devices implanted in our bodies and our brains. Technologies are combining in ways that provide independent mobility to the paraplegic, sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf and speech to the mute.

A particular characteristic of this Age of Technology has been the growth of two types of professionals: Technical professionals that provide the technical skills required to create and support new technology and integrate it into all areas of our lives, and management professionals that can provide the leadership, vision, management and marketing skills that are needed to put the newly created technology into practical forms in the market place.

These are two very different skill sets requiring very different individuals. While there may be some overlap, it is rare to see any individual that excels at peak performance levels in both arenas.

The differences between these two groups are not merely societal, cultural or the result of a particular workplace environment. In fact, these differences are very real and have their foundations in the cognitive functions that determine how each of us, as individuals, perceive and interact with the world.

These groups are very much like mustard and ice cream. Each are delicious in their own way and have their role in making life better, but they’re not quite as great when they’re combined in the same dish (or conference room).

For the 37 years that I have been in the Information Technology field I have
seen this problem first hand. One thing is clear: there has been very little improvement, on a large scale, in the effectiveness of these groups working together for nearly 4 decades.

Statistics developed by The Standish Group that has been studying Information Technology project effectiveness for over 30 years, shows that the success rate of the projects in their 2015 report was a mere 29%. 52% were ‘challenged’ which means it they were either late, over budget, or did not achieve a satisfactory percent of the original objectives, and 19% were failures meaning the project was entirely abandoned.

The good news is that we now have a better understanding of the problem and can begin approaching solutions from a different point of view.

Over the next few posts in this series, I will be exploring the subject of Technogeekaphobia, why it exists, and providing some suggestions for mitigating its adverse affects.

In Part 2, we’ll look at business management education.

Dennis Houchin