A lesson in technology etiquette from a couple of geeks

Using technology well A recent trip to Canada showed how to deal intelligently with modern technology, and to get a lot more done.

I admit that I went on the trip with a certain amount of trepidation. As I flew across the Atlantic, my head was filled with thoughts of forthcoming, somniferous meetings fighting jetlag and trying to understand the basics of concepts data mining and cloud computing.  And yet, I had one of the most productive and enjoyable meetings I have had in a long time. How come?

Techy meeting

Techy meetings may be sometimes very challenging.

My mission that day was to act as go between for the Directors of the Management of Information Systems Departments for my own school and a partner school in Canada. They are both charming people by themselves, but come on, once you put these guys together you know you’re going lose the meaning of the conversation half way through the second sentence.  They will look at each knowingly as they weigh up the merits of VARs, the business application for xSPs (be they ASPs or MSPs) and then describe at length the latest developments of ERPs. An ER..what?!

Of course, they didn’t need me for the techy stuff. They just needed my guidance to put the discussions within the confines of the international agreement that exists between our business schools.

It was only when we were on our way back to the airport after a day that had begun at 8am and finished at 6.30pm that I realized the remarkable thing they had done. Neither of them touched their computers, their cell phones or their PDAs during the entire day. Nobody had hid behind their computer screen trying to type their mail occasionally adding a few comments to the conversation.  There wasn’t a single moment when their attention drifted away to their smartphones that they were hiding under the table. In short, we had spent the day listening, talking, exchanging ideas and talking notes. And everyone used with a pen and a notebook!  We had had a productive day and established the necessary social climate for successfully working together in the future.

Hi tech baby

We are overwhelmed by electonic devices.

We all know that the use of electronic devises has become intrusive in modern-day life and we are all guilty for this.  A recent Ipsos OTX study of 7000 online customers found that smartphones enabled them to spend one half of their waking day interacting with various forms of media.  Use of smartphones has become so bad that the advertising firm DDB Canada has now decided to impose a yellow and red card system for employees that use them Smartphones and meetings during meetings. After one yellow card warning the guilty party receives a red card and has to pay the bill for his smartphone for the entire month. A bit draconian perhaps, but it shows just how bad things have become.

These new technologies are supposed make us more efficient and they can do just that. But misuse of they can be just as costly. In a recent meeting one colleague had to reexplain his short presentation to the entire group because one person had been doing his mail instead of listening.  Everyone had to wait for an extra ten minutes while he picked up the thread of the argument. Do the maths.  11 people waited needlessly for 10 minutes.  That’s nearly 2 hours of lost productivity.  Where is the efficiency in that?

In his excellent book, The Upside of Irrationality (see post-script below) Dan Ariely even proves that failing to pay attention to people in front of us can actually make them more dishonest in the way they treat us. And this is just by answering a phone once during a conversation and not apologizing. Imagine what would happen if we did it repeatedly.

I would like to claim that I am a paragon of virtue in technology etiquette.  I am not.  Like many of colleagues I need to be reminded that ubiquity is reserved for gods. We cannot be everywhere at the same time and by trying to do so we may not only lose valuable time, we will also be unable to construct strong social relationships that are the basis of modern-day business.  If 2 expert geeks can spend the entire day without once glancing at their e-mail, surely the rest of us can put down our PDAs and actually listen to the person in front of us. Surprisingly, we would probably get a lot more done.

In fact, one phone did ring during that day. The receiver apologized but as he looked to check who the caller was he added a final piece of technology protocol.

“There are only two calls you should be allowed to take in a meeting. One is from your Dean and the other is from your kids; they both mean problems.”

It was neither and the call went unanswered.

Boss and teenager

Two calls mean problems: One from the Dean and one from you child


 If you want to read a good, fun book over the summer I would strongly suggest either of the two excellent books Predictably Irrational & The Upside of Irrationality by Dan Ariely. (Personally I would read them in that order.)  Even if you are totally allergic to the word “economics” these books are entertaining to read and have a lot of great insights to our everyday behaviour.  Ariely will explain to you why most of us would never dream of stealing money, but are happy to take a pen home from work, why we often put off making decisions, the power of the word “free” and lots, lots more. 

You can also check out the highly entertaining short videos has on i Tunes or get lots of information from his website: www.danariely.com

See also:

Talking technology in Grenoble

Technology from Dean of Cornell University Business School I am most grateful to Soumitra Dutta and Bill Stirling for having taken the time out last week to give excellent key note speeches at the 6th ICISTM Conference that was held at my school. The conference’s key theme was how the entrepreneurial use of technology can help us out of the current economic crisis. Read more…

AACSB Associate Deans Conference 2012: Millennials Incorporated: Our Student Cohort

Millenials IncorporatedAt the AACSB Associate Deans Conference in Houston, Texas, Andrea Hershatter, Senior Associate Dean at the Goizueta Business School, Emory University gave a wonderful presentation about the Millennial Generation. It was such a rich, entertaining and well researched talk, that it really would be difficult to do it justice in a short blog. (And no, I’m not her agent!) This short article sets out some of the main ideas, but if you get the chance I highly recommend that you go and see her speak. Read more…


Queens UniversityWant to live an unforgettable and amazing international experience? Well, let’s go to Queen’s! Situated in Ontario, Queen’s is one of the best business schools in Canada with high quality professional-oriented courses taught by fascinating experienced teachers that will provide you with a very good background for your future professional life.

Text and photos by Marion Jarraud & Chloé Penant, Grenoble EM, France

Read more…

Smartphones Have Bridged The Digital Divide – ReadWrite

The Sharing Tree: “Learning, socialization and economic gap across socio-economic status, race and gender caused by unequal access to computing resources.No need. The Digital Divide has now been bridged by smartphones.”

Ubiquitous Technology, Coming Soon

David Yerle Writes: “Recent developments in the Google Glass project have hit the news, together with a new batch of “wearable devices” that promise to make technology even more ubiquitous and integrated with our bodies. Examples are the new Sony Smartwatch, which connects to your phone, or Nike’s fuelband, which monitors your vital constant while you exercise.”

The Sharing Tree

“This blog’s content focuses on  in-depth knowledge about domains that include the topics of technology integration, learning theory, learning strategies as well as instructional methods. It promotes student-centered applications of technology and an inquiry model of instruction.”

Higher Education    Global Ed   Graduate Business School    Mark Thomas


Dan Ariely The Innovator´s Dilemma Dan Ariely
A fun book that show why humans don’t always behave in a rational manner. Steve Jobs’ favourite book. Any more questions? Learn about The IKEA Effect, The Baby Jessica Effect and why large bonuses make CEOs less effective.

Mark Thomas

Grenoble EM

ESC Grenoble




Global Ed

International Affairs in Higher Education

Business School


Filed under Higher Education, Technology, Travel

2 responses to “A lesson in technology etiquette from a couple of geeks

  1. Mobile Industry is Now 2% of the World’s GDP, Analyst Reports

  2. Mark Thomas

    Thank you for this information, Patrick .

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s