Sunday, May 18, 2008
Here's the answer, it's email
This post will make more sense if you read the one before it first.
It's the Internet, DUH, sometimes I'm just not too quick. And more specifically the problem is email. (By the way I love it, I'm a junkie) We can move ideas, concepts, information, tasks, appointments, assignments, reports, explanations, evaluations and the data that supports all this instantly. All this moves light years faster than our brains can manage it. The information is also highly fragmented. We send 25 little pieces of data as it becomes available rather that sending cohesive and well articulated reports, as we did in the past.
On April 12, 1978 the Federal Express Company issued it's first public shares of stock. It was years before the use of this service became common place. Affordable fax machines started to appear in our offices in the mid 1980's. Do you remember your boss complaining about how expensive the fax paper was. As if to say we have the machine but please don't use it.
In just 20 or so years we have gone from "snail mail" and the telephone to email, web cams, webinars, this includes audio, video, voice, data and images. The only thing missing is the smell of a bad cologne and the occasional coffee spill. In effect, we have real time communication, on demand, around the world and it is virtually free. However, this is only the communication piece of an increasingly complex business landscape.
The elements surrounding a business issue must be assimilated, considered, balanced, shared, discussed, judged and evaluated by humans before final decisions can be made and these decisions are becoming more complex with the passing of time. An added challenge is the human brain is not working any faster or more efficiently now than it did 25 years ago. In fact, the overload of information we are experiencing today is causing us to work less efficiently and less effectively.
So we are attempting to accomplish more with modestly less brain capacity. My observation is we are seeing a lot of activity but not much in the way of achievement in many settings. This is not to say that a lot of really good things aren't happening in the world. I think there are some leaders who have learned to slow things down or to effectively balance resources with the human capability and technical capacity they have to produce winning results. There is no change here this has always been the secret of great managers with or without technology.
Those who haven't figured this out will spin their wheels and their teams will feel the pain and frustration of having no sense of accomplishment in their jobs. In my opinion, there are far too many people laboring in these circumstances. Activity does not equal achievement, productivity or profitability. It never has and never will. The sad part is I know far too many people who are trapped in these unbalanced and unfair environments.
Remember carbon paper? It wasn't that long ago was it?
Ok, now it fits. It makes sense to me now. I think it's horrendously foolish and grossly unproductive to let this powerful new technology throw so many of us out of balance but now I understand. What company uses the tag line "The power of one"? That's me from now on, using the power of one to offset the disruption of email in the universe. Too bad I don't look better it tights and cape.
Thanks for reading.