May 2, 2022 2 min read

How technology dumbs you down and immunity to change

Level up your leadership. Each edition is a 3 min read, and contains an original article summary, an actionable snippet, a set of reflection prompts, and a reading recommendation.


Original Article Summary

In my article How Technology Dumbs you Down-the Problem with Making Leadership Formulaic, I highlight how technology changes our expectations about how long things should take. Our expectations have changed considerably as technology has become more dominant in our lives and work.

This expectation of speed seeps into all aspects of our lives, including anything that we might be attempting or trying to change.

The problem is that these expectations are not equally applicable in the human domain. And that’s the domain leadership and management operate in.

We have to understand the rules of the domain before we can make meaningful changes in it.

I cite Hubert Dreyfus who gives the example of a GPS. While great for convenience, it robs us of learning the useful skill of navigation.

Mastering any domain requires learning what he calls meaningful distinctions, and that process takes time, energy, and commitment.

The trick is to be aware of what domain we are in so we can approach it accordingly and not get frustrated by the lack of progress.

Click here for the entire article.​


Actionable Snippet

Mastery of the human OS, and working with it rather than against it, is one of the key pillars of my practice.

In the book Immunity to Change, the authors lay out 7 critical attributes of what they call a developmental stance in leadership.

To foster real change and development, both the leader and the organizational culture must take a developmental stance, that is, they must send the message that they expect adults can grow.

It recognizes that there is “life after adolescence”; that adulthood, too, must be a time for ongoing growth and development. ​

It honors the distinction between technical and adaptive learning agendas.

​It recognizes and cultivates the individual’s intrinsic motivation to grow. ​

It assumes that a change in mindset takes time and is not evenly paced.

It recognizes that mindsets shape thinking and feeling, so changing mindsets needs to involve the head and the heart.​

It recognizes that neither change in mindset nor change in behavior alone leads to transformation, but that each must be employed to bring about the other.​

It provides safety for people to take the kinds of risks inherent in changing their minds.

The next time we are considering rolling out a new initiative in our teams, or even our own lives, it's worth checking against this list.


Reflection Questions

  • The last time something did not pan out as planned, consider which of the above got violated.
  • The next initiative that you are rolling out, is that a technical problem or an adaptive problem?
  • What are your assumptions about how long it will take and are they correct?
  • What happens if your assumptions are wrong?

Leader’s Library

This week’s reading recommendation is the above referenced book, Immunity to Change by Robert Kegan & Lisa Lahey.

Organizational change and even personal change at the individual level remains a source of continual mystery and frustration.

Consider your own efforts at changing habits over the years, whether that is eating better, exercising more, or better relationships.

Countless hours and millions and dollars are spent every year on change efforts with little to show. Immunity to Change goes into some of these issues and provides fundamental frameworks that we can use to tackle them.

Robert Kegan is one of the leading thinkers and practitioners in the field of adult developmental theory. The ideas are well-researched, proven in practice, and date back to the 60s and 70s in their origin.

Not an easy one but required reading for any leader.

That’s it for this edition. Have a great week!

– Sheril Mathews

Sheril Mathews
After a 20 year stint in various technical/management/leadership/ positions in the wilds of corporate America I started LS to help leaders & high performers level up their game.
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