We all use computers and computer-based devices. Some of us use them effectively, but more of us use them just effectively enough that we're unaware of how truly powerful they can be. Computer-based devices have three levels of capabilities.
- Ready-to-use capabilities
- All our devices have capabilities intended for use with almost no training. Menu and ribbon commands, keyboard shortcuts, and email message filtering are examples. But some capabilities are hard to find, and some, once found, are hard to understand and remember. The ease-of-use of these machines is often oversold.
- If you want to benefit from these capabilities, invest effort in learning about them. Because that investment pays for itself quickly, learning one new thing generates time to learn the next. Try this: Windows Mac
- Organizational If everyone is so busy doing "real work"
that they have no time to learn how to
do it better, they'll just use what
they already knowleaders who expect employees to learn how to use these capabilities on their own are perhaps a bit naïve. Employees need support, assistance, and time to explore. If everyone is so busy doing "real work" that they have no time to learn how to do it better, they'll just use what they already know. The lost productivity rapidly accumulates to levels beyond the savings that came from not offering training and support.
- Simple extensions
- Many software applications support stationery, templates, styles, bookmarks, hyperlinks, macro recording, and so on. Mastering these simple extensions takes some effort — more than simple menu commands and keyboard shortcuts.
- Although these extensions seem easy enough in blog posts and YouTube videos, for many, the simplicity is deceptive. The shortest path to mastery usually involves getting help from peers or user groups. Seek help and pay it forward.
- Organizations can make some templates, stationery, or styles available to everyone. Tragically, organizations rarely support effective education in using these assets, but they could. Making it easier for employees to learn does reduce costs.
- Programmatic extensions
- Because this third class of capabilities usually involves programming — scripts are an example — most employees cannot exploit them. Even when they know what tools they want and what tools could simplify their work, they don't know how to produce them. Some do, of course, and they do benefit.
- Unless you have a talent for programming and user interface design, leave these items to experts. People who try to exploit these capabilities, and who lack necessary skills, often find that the effort does not pay.
- This class of automation tools is the domain of the expert. The organization must step forward, making resources available to the people who know what tools they need, but lack the ability to build them. Supporting those resources is cheaper than letting people waste their time trying to do what they cannot.
Whether you have broad organizational responsibility, or you're just trying to get through the day without falling further behind, there's much you can do to get more done with less effort. Exploit automation. Top Next Issue
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More articles on Personal, Team, and Organizational Effectiveness:
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- Here's Part II of a list of films and videos about project teams that weren't necessarily meant to be
about project teams. Most are available to borrow from the public library, and all are great fun.
- Astonishing Successes
- When we have successes that surprise us, we do feel good, but beyond that, our reactions are sometimes
self-defeating. What happens when we experience unanticipated success, and how can we handle it better?
- The Good, the Bad, and the Complicated
- In fiction and movies, the world is often simple. There's a protagonist, a goal, and a series of obstacles.
The protagonists and goals are good, and the obstacles are bad. Real life is more complicated.
- Management Debt: II
- As with technical debt, we incur management debt when we make choices that carry with them recurring
costs. How can we quantify management debt?
Forthcoming issues of Point Lookout
- Coming October 23: Power Distance and Teams
- One of the attributes of team cultures is something called power distance, which is a measure of the overall comfort people have with inequality in the distribution of power. Power distance can determine how well a team performs when executing high-risk projects. Available here and by RSS on October 23.
- And on October 30: Power Distance and Risk
- Managing or responding to project risks is much easier when team culture encourages people to report problems and question any plans they have reason to doubt. Here are five examples that show how such encouragement helps to manage risk. Available here and by RSS on October 30.
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- The Race to the South Pole: Lessons in Leadership
On 14 December 1911, four men led by Roald Amundsen reached the South Pole. Thirty-five days later, Robert F. Scott and four others followed. Amundsen had won the race to the pole. Amundsen's party returned to base on 26 January 1912. Scott's party perished. As historical drama, why this happened is interesting enough. But to organizational leaders, business analysts, project sponsors, and project managers, the story is fascinating. We'll use the history of this event to explore lessons in leadership and its application to organizational efforts. A fascinating and refreshing look at leadership from the vantage point of history. Read more about this program.
Here's a date for this program:
- Baldwin-Wallace University, 275 Eastland Road, Berea, Ohio
44017: November 7,
Kerzner Lecture Series/International Project Management Day, sponsored by Baldwin Wallace University and the Northeast Ohio Chapter of the Project Management Institute.
- Baldwin-Wallace University, 275 Eastland Road, Berea, Ohio 44017: November 7, Kerzner Lecture Series/International Project Management Day, sponsored by Baldwin Wallace University and the Northeast Ohio Chapter of the Project Management Institute. Register now.
- The Power Affect: How We Express Our Personal Power
Many people who possess real organizational power have a characteristic demeanor. It's the way they project their presence. I call this the power affect. Some people — call them power pretenders — adopt the power affect well before they attain significant organizational power. Unfortunately for their colleagues, and for their organizations, power pretenders can attain organizational power out of proportion to their merit or abilities. Understanding the power affect is therefore important for anyone who aims to attain power, or anyone who works with power pretenders. Read more about this program.