Back in 1966, the legendary songwriter and Grammy Award winner Paul Simon had a message for us in his 59th Street Bridge Song, “Slow down, you move too fast. You’ve got to make the morning last”.
Simon beseeched us all to stop and smell the roses (or the Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme), forget our deeds to do and promises to keep, and focus on looking for fun and feelin’ groovy.
As I remember it, while always more a fan of the Aussie rock legends (AC/DC, the Angels, Chisel), I really liked the tone of this song and the simple idea of just “kicking down the cobblestones, looking for fun”.
After working through this morning’s blast of news subscriptions including WIRED Awake, Abundance Insider from Peter Diamandis and ReadWrite, scrolling through Business Insider, Mashable and TechCrunch on my iPhone, and taking a look at the Sydney Morning Herald and the Australian Financial Review just for the hell of it, I started to think, “Am I feelin’ groovy?”
We know things are changing fast. Flying cars are being trialled, Mr Musk is seeking planning approvals for Hyperloop tunnels, remote surgery is extending access to medical services right across the bush, Siri and Alexa are fast finding their way into our lives and our conversations, billions are being invested in Blockchain plays and quantum computing capacity is available for rent on an ‘as a service’ basis if you should need it.
Day to day though, we are mostly still driving our cars, tapping at our keyboards and schlepping it on short haul flights where we spend longer getting to the airport then we do in the air. Over the past two decades, technology has actually done precious little to give us back our most scarce resource – time.
This remains the great promise of connected, seamlessly integrated, personalised technology – a little time back on our side, which I’d like to use ‘kicking down the cobblestones’, rather than sending another email or enduring another infernal conference call at an ungodly hour (for me).
It’s what we hoped we’d get with the IBM ThinkPad (1992), the Palm Pilot 1000 (1996), a Nokia 6110 phone (1997), or by signing up to LinkedIn (which I did in 2003).
As much as we may have wished for a time-back dividend, mostly this technology and its endless successors have drawn us into working harder and longer, with often dubious results for us, our colleagues and our families.
OK – so now you are thinking I’m a modern-day Luddite. I acknowledge technology has actually done lots of good things for us already (with the notable exception perhaps of PowerPoint). My point is that by the standard of feelin’ groovy, it’s not yet done its job for me.
The experience of ‘feelin’ groovy’ comes in many guises of course.
The kinda groovy you feel reading a great book or watching an awe-inspiring movie
That traps you in its storyline and propels you through the emotional rollercoaster the author has designed for the hero – and the reader – to experience.
The kinda groovy that comes with falling head over heels in love
Seeing a newborn child for the first time or reconnecting with dear friends and family after many months away living overseas.
The kinda groovy you get lost in
Listening to your favourite music, and going back to the places and people the tunes instantly take you to, full of all the feelin’ that goes with those indelibly imprinted moments in your life.
But there’s one kinda groovy that I like best in terms of my work life. The kinda groovy when you are working on a wicked problem with an amazing team, and everything feels right – the right understanding of the problem, the right cause for solving it, the right energy and inspiration to find a compelling answer and get the job done.
It should be possible that technology can help enrich and enliven this work, enabling us to engage customers and stakeholders in more meaningful ways, and deliver better outcomes – over and above what we can do with traditional ‘tools’ like PowerPoint, sticky notes and flip charts.
Over the next couple of years, I want to make it my mission to find ways in which we can harness the emerging technologies of AR/VR, machine learning, data visualisation, virtual prototyping and so on to create human-centred, digitally-enabled environments that allow teams to achieve the high-energy, high-impact, high-value experience that creative problem-solving ought to be.
The aim being to slow down, move fast, be looking for fun and feelin’ groovy – all at the same time!