Why it’s high time CIOs turn Lenovo’s ‘Users Happen’ campaign on its head

I for one, am willing to defend Chad.

He’s just one of the many hapless characters in “Users Happen,” a series of video clips from Lenovo that document some of the stupid things everyday office workers do with technology. In this case, he manages to leave his laptop on a hot plate, allows his dog to slobber all over it with a drumstick, drop it while tripping and so on. While this has all the comedic appeal of a Stooge Brothers rerun, it is played up as an in-joke among Lenovo’s target base of IT departments.

And yet, despite its attempt to find common ground with technology professionals, there is never any mention that Chad’s ineptness is at all redeemed by the work he actually does on that laptop. You know, the concept that he might, perhaps, be a successful salesman who brings in revenue for the company, or that he might inspire his team in a way that the eye-rolling, head-shaking IT manager could never imagine. Lenovo does realize that those working in various lines of business might notice that “users happen” is a play on a very well-known catchphrase and that “users” is being substituted for something else, right?

Maybe this will help Lenovo sell some hardware, but the best IT executives in Canada will be quick to see that the campaign’s spirit goes directly against the attitudes they have been trying to cultivate and instil in those with whom they work. CIOs and IT departments are not, in fact, best able to help users when they look down on them. The occasional damage users do to equipment is not a reason to condescend to them, any more than we would laugh at an employee who actually misuses a software program and winds up leaking customer data.

“You have to love users, because without them, what would IT do?” reads the marketing copy for the “survival guide” that accompanies this campaign. “Have some fun with this tongue–in–cheek look at your beloved Users and the joy they bring to IT as they find every way possible to ensure you have a lifetime of job security!”

Um, no. In fact, if users were better able to maintain their laptops, applications and other IT tools, those working in IT could probably spend more time developing mobile apps, rethinking common business workflows and identifying other opportunities for innovation. In other words, doing the sort of work that gets the CIO’s attention — and more likely, a raise.

This isn’t tongue-in-cheek — it’s tongue pointing straight out at the coworkers that need education, support and a culture of collaboration to successful. CIOs should make strategic use of these clips with their teams — not to laugh along at the based-on-a-true-story foibles, but to discuss with IT staffers a better way to coach users. Because, whether you want to admit it or not, without users, nothing happens.


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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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Shane Schick
Shane Schickhttp://shaneschick.com
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