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Technology and Productivity

December 10, 2012

A colleague once told me that he thought the internet was a fad.  He had predicted it would go the way of the hoola-hoop, the ant farm, and the pog; and virtually disappear from society altogether after enjoying a massive – but short – “cult following”.  To be fair, at the time of our conversation he had started to come around and admit that he was wrong (it may have been the organization wide intranet, email system, and database that he now used daily), but his reluctance to embrace technology wasn’t his alone.  Many of our colleagues at the time shared his reluctance, and accepted the use of technology only as it was forced upon them (for example, as an electronic document was replacing a paper version.)

Although we – as a professional workforce – have become much more open to embracing technology and all that it can do, we still have a bit of my old colleague in us; reluctant in accepting that new technology is better.  While recently speaking to a friend, she was complaining that the “new” version of MS Excel was far inferior to the previous.  She indicated that it now took her twice as long to navigate the new menus to do a simple task such as produce a bar chart.  As the conversation evolved, and others chimed in with potential solutions, she came to the realization that she could actually produce that bar chart in about half the time (and with half the mouse clicks) in the “new” version.  The source of her complaint wasn’t the new technology after all; it was the change in technology.  The problem was the change from one familiar process to develop a result, to a different process to produce the same result.  Once she mastered the change (and learned the new menus), her productivity increased.  And that bar chart was prettier than ever.

This concept can transfer to many workplace technologies. Whether it is a new navigation system on a fleet vehicle, a new phone system across regional offices or a new enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, almost always the new technology will help increase productivity.  Ultimately, it will make your life easier.

So how can we bridge the gap?  How can we master the change?  Fittingly enough, one of the best sources to the answer is technology itself – the internet.  A simple web search can result in a wealth of answers to many technology issues.  Anything from how to create that stunning bar chart in MS Excel, to how to restart your computer in safe mode, to specific questions on inputting data into SAP can all be found online.  In fact, an IT professional working at a help desk recently told me that often he uses Google himself to find the answers to issues from the caller.  The info is out there and free for the taking.  Although the information sources are plenty, another great source is often your own organization.  If you take the time to attend those optional training sessions, read the emails from IT, and stop ignoring those invitations to webinars you will likely be doing yourself a favour.

Technology is like any other tool.  It is not the solution or the answer to all of our workforce tasks and issues, but if you master the tool it will certainly help you get the work done.

At the end of the day the trend is clear.  The internet (much to the chagrin of my former colleague) and all the other growing technology that is around us – is not a fad.   Be open to learn, willing to try, and enjoy the productivity that will result.

-Tyler

We help organizations thrive by building strong leadership teams & driving sustainable growth.

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