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A tale of two CEOs

It was the best of times, the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness.

In the world of construction, technology is both a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, it promises to streamline processes, increase efficiency, and ultimately drive business success. But on the other hand, it can lead to expensive mistakes, frustration, and confusion when not implemented or managed correctly. 

This duality is exemplified in a conversation I had with two construction CEOs, each with their own experience of technology’s impact on their business.

The first CEO was optimistic about the future of technology in construction, excited by the prospect of modernizing the company’s payroll function. He believed that the process would be easy for users by selecting the right solution, resulting in reduced effort and increased benefits. However, as our conversation continued, it became clear that his focus on technology was causing his team to lose sight of the bigger picture. 

He was so fixated on doing the technical work that he neglected to consider the business impact of his investment. In his mind, technology was the key to success, but in reality, it was just a means to an end.

The second CEO had a very different perspective. He was frustrated by the mess left behind by previous technology investments and the ongoing pain of cleaning up the resulting issues. He had invested heavily in a major system overhaul and modernization project, but the results were expensive and harmful. 

The focus had been on the technology components and software rather than the desired outcome or the people involved. He had relied on expensive experts to fix the mess they had created, and his frustration was palpable.

Despite their differences, these two CEOs were experiencing the same story, just at different points in the timeline. The first CEO was investing in an idea about the future with technology, while the second CEO was cleaning up the past technology mess. 

In both cases, technology had become the focus and the silver bullet rather than a tool to achieve the desired outcome—oddly, this is where the danger lies. Technology is not a silver bullet and should never be viewed as such. It is a means to an end, not the end goal itself. 

When technology becomes the focus, it can obscure the true business impact of an investment and lead to expensive mistakes. However, when it works well, it can create magic by disappearing and freeing up time for those who use it.

As I spoke with these two CEOs, I realized their journey was ongoing, and they needed to keep their destination in mind. And therein lies the actual message. Keeping the bigger picture in mind is the key to success in any technology journey. In other words, looking at the whole picture and always focusing on the business outcome.

Successful technology implementation is like any journey, requiring a clear understanding of where you want to go, where you are, and a plan to get from one to the other. The business outcome is the beacon, the true north that guides the journey and ensures success.

The conversation with these two CEOs taught me that technology could be both a blessing and a curse in construction. The key to success is focus—keeping the bigger picture in mind and focusing on the business outcome while simultaneously avoiding expensive mistakes, frustration, and confusion. By taking this approach, construction companies can ensure that their technology investments are successful and drive long-term success.