High Tech – High Touch

by Ron Potter

Those words keep haunting me.  They are the four words I remember from the book Future Shock.  The book was written by Alvin Toffler in 1970.  That’s 50 years ago!


Wikipedia says that

Alvin Toffler argued that society is undergoing an enormous structural change, a revolution from an industrial society to a “super-industrial society”. This change overwhelms people. He argues that the accelerated rate of technological and social change leaves people disconnected and suffering from “shattering stress and disorientation”—future shocked.

Stress and Disorientation

I am familiar with these feelings.  I wrote about them recently in my blog titled “Divided” where I talked about being confused, hurting, and even angry.  I love this country and love the people in this country.  But I am feeling stress and I’m definitely disoriented.

Virtual World

Covid-19 is contributing to this stress and disorientation.  By all predictions, more than half of employees indicate that they would like to stay in the virtually connected world, rather than go back to the office.  I believe that many corporate leaders are salivating at the cost savings of shedding their physical office space by allowing everyone to continue in the virtual world of video connection, they just don’t know the real costs.

High Tech, High Touch

Toffler was emphasizing one point with these words.  You can have all the high tech you want, but without high touch, it won’t work well.  In this day of division, with many taking “sides”, what can we do to help this situation?   The answer is also in the four words: High Tech, High Touch.

Without building personal, “high touch” relationships, we don’t have a chance of solving this issue.

Virtual World Better

So, if we’re going to be in this virtual world for some time to come, how do we solve the “High Touch” issue.  Unfortunately, I don’t think we do completely.   But with some additional High Tech we can at least get focused on the issue and help people connect and build relationships if they’re willing.

I’ve been working with a group of consultants (High Touch) and technical people (High Tech) over the last couple of years in anticipation of this virtual world happening.  Even without Covid-19 impacting the world, I was seeing more and more geographically separated people working together on teams.  Through this effort, we have created a platform we call GPS4Leaders.  It’s made up of four modules:  Interact, GPS4Teams, GPS4Leaders and GPS4Culture.  We might refer to it as iTLC.

Here is a short video about the iT of iTLC.

We have designed the GPS4 modules to help virtual teams.  It can help in the following ways:

  • Identify the makeup of the team from a personality type.  Built into the system are three assessments based on Social Styles, Competing Values, and a partial Myers-Briggs.  If there is discord on the team or the teams lack the ability to make decisions, the Interact Module can help.
  • GPS4Teams will also help the team to determine where they are now and how they get to the needed future state of a highly functioning team.  This happens through team assessment and pulse surveys.
  • GPS4Teams also identifies disagreements.  While protecting individual member scores, it will show if there is Diffusion, Polarization, or an Outlier.

The best that can happen in this virtual world is to help teams focus and spend time developing understanding and relationships between members.

Reach for the Best

It’s going to be difficult to create the relationships that are required for high functioning teams.  Using the tools available can help focus the need for building these relationships.  But, it’s going to be up to the team leaders and team members to use technology to help build high functioning teams.  It looks like the only thing we’re going to have as the world changes.

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