This past weekend I wandered into our TV room where my son was playing on his Wii with my brother-in-law. He quickly informed me that they were doing it “old school” since the Xbox is by far the preferred game unit now. His comment got me wondering about the fact that technology is moving so fast that something that still seems brand new to me is already considered “old school.” Does everything have the potential to fade to the background that quickly? My answer: absolutely not. Plenty of old school stuff is still around and in many cases considered the norm – I’ll give 3 completely unrelated examples.
Summer Camp: My same son that thinks the Wii is a relic recently returned from sleep-away summer camp. The cabins are still not air-conditioned, you don’t have access to outlets to plug anything into and they still use those old bullhorn-type loudspeakers to make announcements on. No technology to get outdated, no arms races to keep up with. It’s not old school because there was never “new school.”
Cheap Lodging: A friend of mine who is going through some troubles recently asked to borrow some money for a cheap apartment room for a few weeks. I was glad to help out and called the apartment to make the payment on my credit card. They were unable to accept payment on the phone; my options where to come and pay in person or send a fax. A fax? I was en-route in the airport and they don’t even have a fax machine in the Admirals Club anymore. So, I went and paid in person. Now that’s old school.
Business: All this new technology is making everything easier and faster right? Not so much. Every organization I have worked with has struggled with 2 timeless issues: getting good information and then being able to execute on that information in order to implement change. There is plenty of data, but information is usually in short supply. Likewise, there might be an idea to change something and maybe even a plan to get it done, but the organization cannot execute. They can’t get it done. Old school blocking and tackling is still the problem.
Obviously, technology has changed a lot, but there are still plenty of old school issues to deal with. I wonder what my son would say about my Atari console?