CMSWire Contributor of 2018, David Lavenda "What interested me most was how people interact with technology. There is a lot of psychology and neuroscience hiding behind the scenes."

David Lavenda combines a deep knowledge of how technology changes the way we work with a healthy skepticism of the outsized place the same technology is taking in our lives. In his eight years of writing for CMSWire, he has documented the negative effects of information overload, how emerging technology is impacting the workplace and recommended we all take a step back before adopting the newest shiny solution.

As chief product officer at harmon.ie, David remains a firm advocate for designing solutions that help people solve common work problems. All of these interests coalesced this year in a new consortium he co-founded, Humanizing the Digital Workplace, which advocates for keeping people, not technology, at the center of all workplace design.

Design the Appropriate Solution for a Problem

Who are you, in a 280-character tweet? 

Information researcher who is intrigued by how people adopt (or don’t adopt) new technology. Fascinated by the way innovations are usually just new incarnations of old ideas. Firm believer in the phrase, “There is nothing new under the sun.” 

What attracted you to your field and what still excites you about it?

My undergraduate degree was in physics and my first real jobs were engineering roles in high tech companies. But what interested me most was how people interact with technology; there is a lot of psychology and neuroscience hiding behind the scenes. Eventually, I found myself in product management and then in product strategy and marketing. And what I saw time and again is that the key to a product’s success is not directly related to a set of features, but rather to how the offering dovetails with a person’s natural inclinations. It’s figuring out how to crack the nut of designing the most appropriate solution for a problem that gets me excited. And that challenge is especially manifest in designing information technologies. 

What project are you working on now that our readers should know about? 

Besides my day job, I have recently co-founded the Humanizing the Digital Workplace consortium with a multidisciplinary team of best-selling authors, world-class researchers and technology experts who are concerned about the over-emphasis on technology in the workplace. The goal of the consortium is to put the human back in the center by identifying solutions and offering guidance to organizations about creating people-centric approaches that improve worker productivity, creativity and wellbeing. 

What story/stories related to your field will you be following in 2019? 

As the number of technology offerings increase, people at home and at work will continue to struggle to be productive. Dealing with distractions created by mobile devices and maintaining focus will continue to be challenges. Specifically, how people grapple with information technologies will become an even-more important story in 2019. In the workplace, Microsoft will have an even-stronger impact on how workers do their jobs. With all the changes and updates coming to Office 365 and Azure, workers and organizations will struggle to keep pace.  

What was your first paying job? 

Paper boy at age 10. I think I made about $10 a week to get up at 4 a.m. and walk several miles to deliver the Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun Times to about 50 subscribers. 

Speed round!

  • What word could you happily live without hearing ever again? Viral 
  • What book are you reading now? "The Age of Wonder: The Romantic Generation and the Discovery of the Beauty and Terror of Science" by Richard Holmes 
  • Favorite way to spend a day off? Shopping for women’s shoes and handbags for the women in my family (whoops, that’s the least favorite way …). Museum hopping in a new city 
  • If you could go back in time, what period would you go to? First century BCE Rome
  • Quote to live by: "It takes 15 years to become an overnight success" — Sahar Heshami, Founder, Coffee Republic