Several weeks ago, I had lunch with the vice president of Arccos Golf, a startup company that has developed technology intended to help golfers improve their games. The system they came up with allows the golfer to use the data created by each swing of the golf club (sensors are attached to the club) to identify weaknesses and strengths -- among many other useful data points -- like quantifying the percentage of time that your approach shots miss the greens to the right or to the left of the flagstick.
I found Arccos's concept intriguing, so the company gave me a demo set that I could put to the test on the golf course. I was assured that the device was not difficult to use, particularly for the young and tech savvy -- i.e., the Millennials -- who were quicker to pick it up than the Boomers or even Gen Xers!
During the course of this conversation, I also learned that this older crowd made use of just a portion of the new system's capabilities and, in the end, were more likely than their younger counterparts to give up on using the gadget altogether due to frustration or distrust. The Millennials, on the other hand, are more likely to utilize the entire system almost immediately, AND quickly adapt to the regular updates and free software enhancements. Hmmmm.
As one of the users from the Boomer generation, I can't say I found the system difficult, though if I did some soul-searching, I guess I could say that I, too, would gravitate toward using the device's more basic and essential functions.
In today's technology-based society, its almost a curse having been born in what I call the BT (Before Technology) Era. With kids virtually leaving the womb with a cell phone in their hands, navigating technological devices becomes second nature to them, just as a second language or a sport like skiing is when learned at an early age.
I do have techno-envy when I watch my 19-year-old son and my 23-year-old daughter quickly and more easily navigate their electronic gadget of choice. It's not that I can't accomplish the same things; it's just that it takes effort. It is far from second nature.
Okay, so I'll probably never be a techno-savant, but I refuse to throw up my hands and give up on keeping up when it comes to new strategies and tools that can benefit me, personally and professionally.
I'll probably never be a techno-savant, but I refuse to throw up my hands and give up on keeping up when it comes to new strategies and tools that can benefit me, personally and professionally..."
If you have been in turf management for 20 to 50 years, you undoubtedly have wisdom, insight, and value to add. Just keep in mind that technology gives you new means to keep demonstrating and applying that value. Don't get down on yourself because you failed to learn the latest software or app. Just make it a point to master it, and then watch your productivity grow.
Why not start today by making technology your friend, and bear these pointers in mind:
- Practice yields proficiency. A family friend was a textile designer for more than 30 years. When her craft first started going digital, she felt lost and obsolete. Then she realized she was best off learning by doing. She began to welcome assignments that required new software skills, and in addition to taking courses to retrain, she hired a kid she found to coach her through the job. Last I checked, she still calls on him. It;s how she stays current.
- Pick your kids' or a young staff member's brain. In the book Overcoming the Digital Divide by Shelly Palmer (President of the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, NY, and the digital living guru from CNN, Fox Television, NBC Universal and satellite radio), I read that the two groups with most tech smarts are typically those under age 25 and those over 45. The latter are often parents who have their own onsite techie to school them: the 16-year-old playing Xbox in the family room.
- Find daily blogs that sift through tech stories and talk about only the things you should focus on. That adds up to a five-minute read that keeps you up-to-date and in the know.
- Go into a Verizon or Apple store and don't just grab latest device with the most press. Tell a sales associate what you do for a living and ask the person to show you the smartphone, tablet, or device that is right for you.
- Always ask for device demos that focus on the specific functions, tips, and tricks that can boost your personal productivity.
- Take it one step further and sign up for the workshops that Apple and others typically offer to help you master relevant programs. Winter is the perfect time!
Though older is wiser on so many fronts, ignoring technology and its increasing role in the turf profession is a certain pathway to obsolescence. Everyone should anticipate and embrace the inevitable technological advances.
...ignoring technology and its increasing role in the turf profession is a certain pathway to obsolescence."
Like Arccos Golf has introduced it's golf club sensors to enhance golfers' experience on the course, we at Playbooks for Golf recognize the importance of introducing, and continually improving on, technological devices like the Coverage System that will streamline and simplify various aspects of superintendents' jobs.
Slowly but surely, technological advances are taking hold in the industry, particularly among the Millennials streaming into the industry. So come on, Boomers and GenXers, you smart, mature people. Make the same commitment to staying technologically up-to-date.
Every day there's at least one twenty-something techno geek suggesting you just move over and let him take over. Ignore him. Pull out your smartphone and stand firm!