I have a desk calendar from Despair.com, a purveyor of darkly funny "demotivator" posters such as the one pictured below (my unwittingly timely choice for February, as it turns out). They have hit a nerve with many people, in much the same way that the TV show "The Office" succeeds in portraying a dark, parody of post-modern, white-collar America (or the UK, depending on your choice of show).
Jim Collins famously gave perhaps the simplest and most salient advice a manager could ever ask for: "Hire motivated people, and don't de-motivate them." An article I recently read in the on-line edition of the Harvard Business Review, "Don't Use Smart Technologies to Do Dumb Things," cast that advice in the light of technology, providing some excellent examples of instances where technology, badly deployed, de-motivates team members, erects barriers and creates divisions in an organization.
A terrific piece of advice from the article's author, Susan Cramm, paraphrased, is to "implement technologies that simultaneously serve individual and business interests."
Easy to say, hard to do. From asking extra questions in the discovery process to doing more extensive stakeholder analysis ("who has a stake in this business problem? how does the solution change their daily routine for the better?") to creating testing scripts for varied user roles, it's a difficult but necessary step to creating lasting value. I'll work hard to take this to heart in both the creation of solutions with clients, and in the formulation of processes within our firm itself.