Friday, December 22, 2017
This week I happened upon an excellent article titled “Do Your Tools Have Too Many Knobs?” and the point was this: If your staff is overly reliant on workarounds (aka “life hacks”) to get through their day, it’s likely that your organization’s infrastructure is creating more problems than it solves. Put another way, employees are wasting time on busywork instead of creating value.
A classic example of “too many knobs” is an ERP system that doesn’t produce the necessary reports or “talk” to a critical department. This forces staff to either double-enter information into two systems or export from one and rework the data with a second tool (typically Excel). So what’s a progressive leader to do?
First, figure out which tools have too many knobs. You can either ask your team or send someone in to observe them Jane Goodall-style. (Call it Efficiency in the Mist or The Knob Reduction Adventure… because I checked and The Alan Parsons Project was already taken).
Second, determine whether the tools with too many knobs have either outlived their usefulness (aka legacy systems), require modifications or whether there’s an employee gap pertaining to either usage, training or knowledge.
Finally, either train up, transform or trade out. Training is straightforward and transformation involves a clear vision for modifying your current system. Trading out can be more difficult, though, as many leaders are loathe to replace legacy products. This is typically due to inertia, cost (both new and “sunk”) or nostalgia. As a leader, you have a responsibility to make sure your people aren’t turning too many knobs. Don’t let your head trash stand in the way of their efficiency.