I’m more productive when I get rid of the tools I use

After a long reflection I realized that the tools I use were the cause of a high level improductivity. And that the others gives me incredible services.

Try to pay attention to this in the upcomming days. Try to take some distance on your own experience, listen to your colleagues, you friends, and I’m sure you’ll draw the same conclusion.

When someone talks about “using” a tool or when you feel you’re using one, it means there’s a problem somewhere : the simple fact to be conscious of using someting creates a kind of disruption in our work, needs an effort. In brief : our efforts are not about our work anymore but about using tools that are supposed to help us doing our job.

It means that (many possible answers) :

• The tool has a poor ergonomy

• The tool doesn’t work well

• The tool makes more complex things that were easy before

• The tool may be a very good one but makes no sense in our work context.

This takes us to a double problematic of “design” :

• Tool design

• Work design and alignement with tools

The tools that are, according to me, the more efficient ones are those I don’t feel I’m using, those which use moves aside for what they make possible, that are the natural extension of my activity. For the simple and good reason that if a correct job has been done on the two above mentioned points, they would not need any effort, no waste of time, and so they would makes things easier instead of bringing an added complexity into my work.

Please notice that that has been true for ages, from the machine in a factory to informal communication tools including more complex softwares like ERPs. Let me remind you that one of the main reason people sometimes botch what they have to do with their CRM or time management sofware isn’t they don’t suscribe to the purpose but find it too uneasy regarding what it brings to them.

People use tools to accomplish tasks. If their use becomes a task by itself ressources are wasted.

• At the tool design level : the more things are obvious the less training is needed, the less people will refuse the tool.

• At the work design level : making people change the way they work in order to make them use a tool is stupid. Tools have to adapt to what people do, not the contrary. Of course, tools may be a change accelerator if used to support a new work design, but it’s the way people work that determines tools and not the opposite.

At the end, both points gather : tools have to find their place in people’s work flow, to catch it, in order people focus on their tasks and not on their means.

I’m efficient when I say something to someone, when we work together, when I share informations with them. I’m not when I send and email, use a collaborative module or a document sharing tool. Perharps you think it’s only a matter of vocable ? Not at all. It’s the expression of the tool’s impact on employee’s work, on what they use their energy and what grab their attention. A person who talks about using something is, most of times, experiencing difficulties. Someont who talks about the final result use the tool in a transparent way, even without noticing it as it’s very natural.

Lately someone told me about his software 390 functions. I hope he’ll convince people to buy it, but I turned on my heels few seconds after he started selling me functions without even mentionning how it meant in terms of concrete results in my job. When I use my microwave oven it’s to cook something, not to run a magnetron that will agitate some water molecules. If it was the case I’d go back to my old saucpan. Any approach that focuses on the function instead of the service delivered, the final result, makes ithard to align tools with work and is the evidence the supplier does not even understand in which way he may help you improve your performance. French speaking people are invited to read this post from Frédéric de Villamil on this issue.

I was recently talking with  Jon Husband who was talking me about the necessity tools have to catch people’s natural work flow without forcing people to learn tools logics that are different from their work logics. This is obviously about productivity and efficiency, about personnal information supply chain. Work and information flows have to go through people, and people don’t have to contort themselves in order to catch, treat and diffuse it.

So that’s why I’m getting rid of tools that gives me the impression of operating them and I focus on those that help me doing things transparently.

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Bertrand DUPERRINhttps://www.duperrin.com/english
Head of People and Business Delivery @Emakina / Former consulting director / Crossroads of people, business and technology / Speaker / Compulsive traveler
Head of People and Business Delivery @Emakina / Former consulting director / Crossroads of people, business and technology / Speaker / Compulsive traveler

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