Saturday, October 15, 2016

Advice from a reforming hoarder

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One the biggest challenges we face in this time of abundance is accumulating “stuff”. So many, myself included, have far more “stuff” that we need or can ever use. If you set your mind to it you’ll be surprised at how much stuff you can actually get rid of. Less stuff means less to worry about, less to store, etc, etc. The benefits are endless.

Our accumulation of “stuff” also bleeds across into our digital lives. Don’t believe me? How many digital photos have you got stored away somewhere that you have never looked at and are unlikely to every look at? One your computer? On your phone? In the cloud? I’ll bet plenty. Now think about some of your business processes in light of the technology you use.

One of things that I see with many businesses is that they never in fact ‘replace’ processes with new technology, they simply ‘add’ new technology to what they already have. Why? Of course it is human nature to desire remaining with the familiar, but doing so comes at a price. That price is 'accumulating more unnecessary ‘stuff’.

A good example I recently came across was the implementation of Yammer, an enterprise social network available via Office 365. Many businesses now have access to Yammer but they fail to really integrate it into their business. Why? Because they view it as an addition to their businesses processes rather than a way of actually replacing an older system they have.

What do I mean? Take the example of reporting something unsafe in the workplace. An older approach might have been to submit a report, attend a committee meeting or request help from another team. All of that takes time and is generally a very siloed process. Now imagine what may be possible if you replaced that whole process using a tool like Yammer.

In this case, someone finds an issue and posts a message, including photos, to a dedicated public Yammer group. The responsible business group can then view the information, request further clarification or details as well as solicit input from other parties, all in one location. Everything remain visible to all parties at all times. Best thing is because all of that information is public, it is searchable at any time in the future, providing ongoing business value.

Not fully adopting a new system leaves overhead that not only slows down the process but also makes it more complex for those involved. The simpler things are, the less mistakes are made and the fewer things break.

We have a tendency in this modern world to accumulate ‘stuff’. We do exactly the same with technology. There is a widespread failure to implement new technologies as replacements for old processes. We want the new but hold onto the old and typically end up with twice what we need to get the job done. That is inefficient. Technology has then become something that encumbers rather than enables.

Next time you implement or evaluate a new technology for your business, consider it in light of what it can replace. What processes can this new technology actually help you replace completely rather than just supplement? This can be challenging but when you start living in a world of less you soon find there is room for so much more.