“Leaning In” With New Technologies


A lot of people have been worried about the feel of the new iPhone button. Either worried about it, or after having tried it they actually don’t like it.

I’ve had an interesting experience with it, and I wanted to capture a quick and related thought about it.

I love the new way of unlocking and returning to the home screen, but I don’t necessarily love how it compares to a good button.

They’re different things, really. That’s the key. It’s a new way of doing things.

As with so much new technology like Siri, Alexa, and Google Now (all interfaces, like the new iPhone button) the best possible thing you can do is to lean in.

“Leaning In”—in this context—means assuming it works perfectly and just acting as if it’s true.

There are countless examples of how this applies; here are just a few that jump to mind:

  • Using the Paper (by 53) drawing app on my tablet, you can’t be cautious about how you draw. You have to TRUST that you can lay your palm on the screen and just create like you normally would. Otherwise you’ll be cautious, hesitant, and tight. You won’t create well.

  • The new iPhone home interface is designed to be used without physical buttons, i.e., as part of the screen itself. So stop thinking about how it compares to a button. Just assume it will do exactly what it’s supposed to do. I’m loving mine as of the first few minutes–no “getting used to it” required.

  • Talking to personal assistant systems, like Siri and Alexa, are best done when you just assume they’re all-knowing and perfect. If you are thinking about the syntax that they “probably” or “likely” support, and/or try to think of the best way to ask the question, then you’re doing it wrong. Ask exactly what you want, and expect magic in return.

Basically, being un-natural and hesitant is the worst thing you can possibly do if you want to get optimal results. This doesn’t apply to what you control directly, but also to what you expect from others—including new technologies.

So when you are trying new tech, I recommend this methodology:

  1. If it’s designed to be used naturally, just assume it’s from 200 years in the future and use it like it is. It’ll probably fail a bit, but just keep up your assumption and behavior.

  2. Learn the idiosyncrasies of the tech that are barriers over time.

  3. Realize that the builders are likely working to remove those barriers.

  4. Every once in a while, start completely new with your expectations and try using it completely natural again, like you wish you could.

This will keep you at the forefront of what new technology can offer. If you assume it can’t do things, you won’t push them, and you will have created your own sub-optimal future.

Lean In on new technologies. Use them like they should work, not how you think they will.


  1. Image from Forbes.

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