Why progress is not a straight line

Vjekoslav Babić writes here about why “Progress often doesn’t look like progress at all when it first arrives.

He explains that when Carl Benz developed his first car in 1886 it had 0.75 horse power, a top speed of 16km/h, was able to cover 45km on a single tank and could only take two passengers. In almost every single way it was inferior to the horse drawn carriages it would soon replace. People asked “is this progress?”

The answer lies in identifying peak potential. In 1886 the horse drawn carriage had already peaked. Whereas the car was at the very beginning of its development. I see this so often when implementing new IT solutions – users see the new system as a backward step, rather than appreciating the potential the new system creates.

For example, when we rolled out Dynamics NAV as our new ERP system it was replacing a heavily customised, mature ERP system that was end-of-life and no longer being developed. The old system worked fine in most aspects, and users had invested a lot of effort in training and development to reach the point where it was. But as it wasn’t being developed, and used out of date technology, it had reached peak potential. For many users, the new NAV system, straight out of the box, wasn’t as good as the old system. I had to persuade users of the potential the new system offered and get them to think in terms of where they want to be (and where they wanted the company to be) in three, four or even ten year’s time.



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