Technophobia is more real than global warming

Have you read the hype lately about global warming – it seems to go in spurts and depending on how slow a news day it happens to be, it can be world news one day and relegated to the back of the classifieds the next.  While I don’t want to make a mockery of the effects of climate change on our planet (I haven’t done the full research to know whether to believe the Republicans or Democrats or the farmers on this one!) – I do think that global warming is the news du jour and the topic becomes a soapbox whenever a politician wants their 15 minutes of fame.

One thing that I know is an issue in software development and is seldom discussed is Technophobia or the irrational fear of technology.  One might be convinced that there is no such thing as technophobia when we read how the latest Apple iPad supplies swarmed off the shelves into the eager arms of technology savvy consumers, but I have to wonder what’s the true story. Every day, in every city, in almost every country I speak in, I meet professionals (and some are gen X’ers!) who are literally in the dark when it comes to technology. And, here’s the scary part, they might even be on your project teams!  (No, not on the software development side, of course, the customer/business/shareholder side) And furthermore, you might not even know it.

Our obsession with agile development, faster/better/cheaper, acronyms, connectivity, networking (hardware not people), configuration management systems, and all the other productivity tools we embrace to speed up our software development processes miss the boat when it comes to truly discovering what our customers (especially those with technophobia) really need.

So, what can a project manager or business analyst or programmer do when we meet a stakeholder who we fear (hmmm is there a fear of someone with technophobia?) might have technophobia?  It might seem all a bit trite to say the least that someone would actually fear technology, but I can assure you that it exists and it is not a fear that goes away when talking to those who live, eat, and breathe technology!

This is where a scope manager or customer advocate can make inroads with stakeholders. Often pride prevents professionals from confessing to their technophobia – and it can be debilitating to admit that one doesn’t understand members of the project team at all. Scope management is customer advocacy as I’ve stated earlier posts – and the scope manager as an independent consultant has the luxury of spending time with the customer to truly discover the scope of the business problem before any systems or software engineers get involved.  That means that the customer invests time and energy in initial discovery and doesn’t waste it trying to talk about what they really meant – as often would happen if a Request for Proposal (RFP) goes out with mistaken or incomplete requirements scope.

Technophobia is real and all around us, and if we want to firmly gain control of the typical 40% rework that consumes our software development projects, we ought to take a solid look at what a scope manager can truly bring to our projects and programs.

To your successful projects!


Carol Dekkers

For more information on northernSCOPE(TM) visit (in English pages) and for upcoming training in Tampa, Dusseldorf, Copenhagen, and other venues in 2010 visit
=======Copyright 2010, Carol Dekkers ALL RIGHTS RESERVED =======


2 responses to “Technophobia is more real than global warming

  1. 1st, technophobia in my experience is supported by those who have tried to convince PMs that they are artists (!) and thus to constrain them with discipline and boundaries is to ruin their creativity. Smart managers — and I have no illusion they are even in a significant minority — see through this analogy recognizing some of the most noted “artists” were very disciplined within the boundaries of their art and culture.
    2nd, those who do not grasp technology are analogous to a cork on sea water they are constrained by the whim of the industry/cultural tides never to progress until they gather a rudder of their own through logical, rational observation and thinking. I would post that…it is a challenge PMs and SMEs need to be humble with.


    • Hutch,
      Thanks for your comment. IT is a people intensive industry much to the chagrin of those who entered the field to do coding in a backroom away from people. As competition becomes more hardened (less margins for profit), it increases the need for clear, humble communication! For some reason, “soft skills” are treated as fluff and simply do not gain the importance among technophiles. If we want to reduce rework there’s only one way – through upfront, honest, patient communication. Carol


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