In your professional life, what are qualities or attributes you most admire?
We respect diligence, determination, reliability and hard work, but we should probably place a higher value on efficiency, innovation, and creativity.
Being first into work and the last to leave seems heroic. But is that really the smartest approach?
Using a Blunt Axe: The Hard Way
Today’s knowledge workers toil away at their computers using just a few tools – typically Outlook, Word, PowerPoint, and Excel. When they are given a problem to solve they turn to one of their trusty tools – probably Excel, knuckle-down and grind out a solution.
This may mean
- Sending out spreadsheets to lots of people
- Repetitive cutting and pasting to merge data from multiple versions
- Diligently checking and re-checking formulas are still correct
- Wrangling the data
- Working hard to gather the required information in an organized way
Why does it have to be so hard? Why do we do it this way?
A spreadsheet is a flexible general-purpose tool – it’s great for an individual doing complex calculations. But it’s not designed for gathering data from lots of people.
Using our everyday tools may seem easier. We can start quickly and put the hours in without having to think too hard. It seems less risky as we know we can do it.
Sometimes the spreadsheet will turn into a complex monster. But creating a complex spreadsheet does not seem so bad. It may even seem impressive; you may feel you are making yourself indispensable. Especially if you are the expert, and know all the tricks and workarounds to get it to do what you want.
Don’t be the hero. It’s not smart. Using the wrong tool is inefficient and error-prone.
Using a Sharp Axe: The Smart Way
The next time you have to solve a problem with information – step back and think about what you want from a tool.
Resist the urge to dive in and do it the same old way. Innovation, new approaches, and new technology require effort to overcome our natural inertia.
The rewards for picking the best tool for the job are
- Improved efficiency
- Better results
- Extra time for other activities
- Fewer mistakes
- A fresh perspective
- Less drudgery for staff
- Trusted information
And it will be even easier next time.
Be Smart. Sharpen Your Axe
Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe
Investing the time and attention to use the best tools for the job, will always pay dividends.
For gathering and managing organized information between many people, LiveDataset is like a sharp axe – the best tool for the job.