Will tinkering with technology really change behavior?
Speaking at the the company’s OpenAir engineering event Wednesday, Chesky [Airbnb CEO] said Airbnb would be “revisiting the design” of their platform to prevent discrimination.
Airbnb has experienced negative press and more than its share of negative feelings from some customers due to allegations of racism with some hosts in their global community. Both the VP of Engineering and the CEO believe tinkering with the design of the Airbnb platform will improve the situation. It may indeed help the situation, at least temporarily, but invariably people will cipher the algorithm and more than likely, similar allegations will arise again.
It Ain’t the Technology
First of all, have you ever watched some people engage with technology and/or smart devices? Sometimes I think they make people dumb. Here are some example situations, which make the point.
- Standing behind the person trying to scan items in a checkout in a store.
- Waiting to get gas from a pay-at-the-pump station, while the person at the pump in front of you tries to figure it out.
- Watching people use ATM machines.
- And now, everyone’s favorite, “Do I swipe my card or does it need to read my chip?”
These are just a tiny fraction of the types of challenges people have with technology and these are simple activities.
And Yet We Expect Behavioral Change to Happen with Technology?
True change happens with practice and failure over a period of time. While technology might be able to help catalyze some levels of change in an individual, he or she ultimately must own the decision to change and take action(s) to make it really happen. If technology could really make that happen, most people would be:
- at their desired weight
- fluent in multiple languages
- in a relationship with their perfect partner
- and possess a plethora of other talents.
Company leaders often face the same dilemma with revenue and the use of Client Relationship Management (CRM) systems. “We have invested thousands of dollars in (you-name-the-CRM-system) and we still can’t forecast, drive incremental revenue, or reduce our sales cycle time.” The reason is sales people have to enter the data accurately into the CRM for those measures to be accurate and available. The hard part is the behavioral discipline to enter the data consistently and in accordance with the organization’s policies.
What does that mean for me?
Know that by default, humans are like electrons. They prefer the path of least resistance. Your solution must include a way for your target audience to have small victories frequently and over time. They must enable practice and failure in a safe environment. They have to involve more than technology, e.g., processes, policies, accountability, reinforcement, and management modeling, etc. And finally, you must measure their effect on a regular basis and modify as required.
Quote source: Mashable Article, by Karissa Bell.