Karlo Valentín Rodríguez
Co-Founder & CTO
Startup Contributor

When You Have a Hammer, Everything Looks Like a Nail

By Karlo Rodriguez | Fri, 08/13/2021 - 12:55

There’s an old saying, “Give a small boy a hammer and he will find that everything he encounters needs a pounding.” Abraham Maslow, the American psychologist and creator of the Hierarchy of Needs theory, changed it: “If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail," a concept now known as “Maslow's hammer.” It perfectly describes why in business, when you find a perfect tool to solve a specific problem, you try to shape other problems so they can be solved using the same tool because you like it, it’s already familiar and you feel sure about using it.

This common practice of over-reliance on a specific tool also extends to suppliers. When a supplier for your business is reliable and provides a good product at a fair price, you want this same supplier to provide you with other products and solutions you need.

The great risk is that we end up trying to make our business operations compatible with the tool when it should be the other way around: tools should be adapted to our business. If you try to adapt your business to the tool, the tech you use will dictate how your business operates. If this tech becomes obsolete or is no longer available, you will have a huge problem to deal with.

Artificial intelligence is a tool and because it’s a hot topic right now, everyone is in a rush to add it to their business. This rush is making people invest a lot of money without even knowing how this tech fits into their value chain and operations. Often, they don’t even have the expertise required to use such tools.

Don’t fall into the trap of the AI gold rush. Just because a technology has AI in its name does not mean it’s the one you need. In fact, if you do a deeper analysis of your problem, it is likely solvable using a current, common, non-AI-powered technology or software.

If you are thinking about buying an expensive license for an AI tool, think twice before making the purchase. Is your business mature enough? Do you understand how this tool works? Do you have the people with the skills required to maximize the use of this tool? If you are uncertain, delay the purchase until you can describe in one sentence how this tool works and what problem it solves for your company.

Artificial intelligence is not a magic hammer and your business problems are not nails. Make the technology work for you, not the other way around.

Photo by:   Karlo Rodríguez