Striking a Balance

The tech industry – and world at large – could use some moderation.

Moderation and balance seem in short supply throughout the world these days. Between war on two sides of the globe and political extremes in vogue all over, the proverbial pendulum is swinging wildly, rarely landing in the center. And business and industry are no exception to current trends.

In business and especially technology, the hot area is everything artificial intelligence (AI). Whether hardware or software, AI is the holy grail de jour. The regulatory environment is similarly out of balance. With security leaks, loss of privacy and potential pirating that could lead to everything from automobiles to aircraft and even weapons being manipulated by the “bad guys,” layers of regulations, standards, audits and inspections have taken off in every segment of industry. Again, balance and moderation have given way to extremism.

In fact, industry has never needed balance and moderation more than now. “Reasonable” and “pragmatic” are two words that should be applied across a multitude of areas.

Technology could use a healthy dose of pragmatic balance. Take, for instance, the abandoning of gasoline vehicles for electric. Is recharging an electric vehicle’s battery by plugging into an already overly taxed electric grid really the answer? Is it safer when a vehicle’s controls reside on a touchscreen display out of the driver’s typical line of vision rather than utilizing buttons and knobs closer to the hands on the wheel? And on a thousand-mile trip how many hours will be required to recharge the vehicle? Maybe a more balanced approach is to encourage small cars with energy efficient gasoline engines, hybrid vehicles and limiting the size/weight of energy inefficient SUVs to reduce owners’ costs as well as be environmentally better.

Ditto the quest for AI. Maybe those efforts should instead be focused on improving individual education – especially with a STEM curriculum. Or focusing on a reasonable immigration policy so all those flocking to a country can be assimilated into the workforce to fill manufacturing jobs for which it is so difficult to find applicants. I would hate to think that the search of AI ends up finding artificial stupidity!

Security – especially cybersecurity – is another area requiring balance and pragmaticism. Adding protocols, two-factor authentication (2FA) and other “safeguards” only works if the likes of Microsoft, Apple, etc., better manage how and when they issue software updates to make sure they are both secure and compatible with the myriad of other software they interact with. Education is also needed so employees understand what they should and should not do when using a computer or a “secure” network! Finally, if the security protocol is not understandable and easy for non-IT employees to use, dangerous workarounds will occur. Security protocols are no place to deploy a Rube Goldberg approach.

Individuals, or more to the point, employees, is another area in need of balance, moderation and reasonableness. Young folks need to be taught that when they have a job, especially a career job in manufacturing, they need to show up on time every day. Not being in the “mood” isn’t going to cut it. My guess is that all the people around the world trying to emigrate to a new country would be happy for any job where they must show up on time, all the time! Ditto thoroughness. Basic training in public schools should include “GAS” training, which is “Give A Sh*t!”

No matter the career or job pursued, if employees do not care, do not perform to the best of their abilities and do not strive for perfection, they will not be successful. If employers explicitly communicate to applicants the expectation that the applicant be reasonable in their requirements, balanced in how they interact with coworkers and pragmatic in how they approach the job, all will have a greater possibility for mutual success.

Expectations could also use a dose of balance. Setting goals is great. Expecting stretch goals to happen is something quite different. Thanks in part to social media, reasonable expectations are being inflated. More to the point, they are inflated either by those who know not of what they are saying or are trying to be misleading. Executives, management and employees alike need to moderate and balance how much they believe on social media. Discerning fact from fake is becoming essential to survive in the workplace as well as in life.

In this new year, looking around at all the extremism taking place, it seems to me we need to recalibrate toward moderation, balance, reasonableness and pragmatism to truly enjoy success.Article ending bug

PETER BIGELOW is president of FTG Circuits Haverhill; (; His column appears monthly.