- Update May 2020
- After writing this at the start of the year I couldn't have expected the business world to slow so significantly due to the Coronavirus pandemic. But having recently re-read this article myself, I realise how pertinent the 10 questions are today, as we rethink our businesses and teams going forwards.
New Year, new perspective
I’m struggling to believe that the first month of 2020 has almost gone already. Around the world, business leaders are sitting at their places of work putting the final touches to their strategies - not just for this year, but for this decade.
It’s an exciting opportunity to sit back, reflect, and find new ways of ensuring the best ideas move the business forward. It’s certainly something I look forward to in the depths of December!
But often how we view those strategies is through frameworks we are already working in. Without conscious thought, that brings in limitations, because we don’t consider that the frameworks themselves - whether it be working practices, assumptions and guesses, or even the very technology we’re using - need to be reviewed.
It is much more challenging to re-evaluate the technology solutions that you rely on because they feel business critical, and often they are.
But this is the best time to step outside of the rhythm of the working year and start to look beyond the routine to see whether a better option is out there.
But we haven’t reinvented the wheel - have we?
No, but at some point, someone did!
No one wants to be critical for the sake of it, but that can sometimes introduce complacency. This is never more apparent when a new team member joins you and asks, “Why do we use that app?”
...and you cannot remember.
Where do you start?
You can take five minutes, five hours, or five days to consider your business’ use of technology, which can make it difficult to know where to start. Even when you do spot an opportunity gap where technology could make your life easier, how do you find the best one? How can you compare different feature lists with different pricing models, and what if you cannot find a technology solution to your problem at all?
That’s why I’ve created these 10 questions that you can ask yourself about your business which should highlight opportunity gaps, and how to go about looking for the technology that can elevate your business.
Questions for employees
1. If you could have any technology in your workplace, what would it be?
Yes, these answers may be initially fanciful, but they can reveal your desires which in a small way can be achieved. For example, would you love a virtual reality headset for international conferences? A VIVE Pro Full Headset may not be in the budget, but a Google Daydream View VR Headset could be.
2. What has been ignored before?
Businesses only have so much time to reflect and find new solutions, so if you’ve raised a challenge to management before but have been told it’s simply not possible to fix in-house, these are the solutions that by definition need an external source to fix.
3. What challenges regularly block you from completing a task?
We’re often so busy that we don’t even raise the little frustrations that prevent us from working how we want, so start making a quick note of them as you go. What turns up over and over again? Which are significant but only happen once in a blue moon, so you haven’t thought to look for a solution?
4. What small frustrations do you complain about when you get home?
These are the ones that stick with you! These are the parts of our jobs that we feel, innately, must have a better way of doing things, but we’ve spent more time getting irritated about them than actually fixing them. Solving these issues can result in a more substantial cumulative improvement.
5. What elements of your job are repetitive or machine-like?
Don’t worry, I’m not suggesting we replace you with a machine! Instead, these tasks could be automated by something as simple as an app, reducing huge amounts of time that can be used elsewhere. Remember, your technology should be working for and around you and your team, not vice versa.
Questions for employers/business owners
6. What do you want your employees to focus on?
We are limited beings, and we can only do so much at one time. Decide what your employees are best at, and then prioritise technology solutions that complement them. Humans and computers are both brilliant at very different things, so ensure that any technology solutions you take on board recognise and embrace this.
7. What technology do you regret investing in?
Sometimes, considering the technology that isn’t working for you is the first step to discovering the technology that will. What software or hardware do you have in your business that gets in the way, doesn’t deliver as expected, or you could happily get rid of tomorrow?
8. Where are you saving money but losing time?
Tempting as it is to cut down on expenses by keeping everything in-house, this can have the unintended effect of absorbing vast amounts of focus and productivity. Sometimes, paying (even small amounts) for a third party service or software solution will free you and your team up to deliver more revenue-critical impact for the business.
9. What business knowledge needs sharing in your team?
Your employees have a wealth of knowledge and experience, but may not be naturally sharing with the whole team. Collaborative software that is integrated with your team will raise awareness of best practice and new ideas, increase engagement with new knowledge, and empower employers to support one another as they learn and adapt.
10. How does information move in and out of your business?
If you send reports by email, who does that directly benefit - you, or the recipient? If the client actually prefers to receive reports in a different format, then your habits are benefiting you, not them. A simple change could dramatically improve your relationship with them.
It all creates a better working environment
Whether you’re looking to bring in efficiencies in time, improve delivery to clients, or add value to your teams, technology is typically the most natural way to introduce cost effective solutions that are limitless in their ability to take your best practices to the next level.
When technology is adopted by a team, the business benefits twice: there is intrinsic value for the individual as they are empowered to work better and work smarter, and group value thanks to the efficiencies, learnings, and team togetherness that the solution brings.
Need a helping hand?
It’s easy to fall into the desire to repeat, just doing the same things you’ve done for years. But if you are slowed down by repetitive tasks, that will be frustrating, reduce your team’s ability to deliver, and your competitors will start to get an edge.
Sometimes it’s as simple as having the same solution recommended to you by two different people - then you know you can trust it. But if you’re still looking for insight, we are always happy to share ideas, collaborate, and contribute to your business’ growth.
Get in touch to learn how to make technology work for you.