How do you slice a banana?
While trivial, the many ways a banana can be sliced into small cubes, especially if it’s for a small child, can provide insight into how different tasks can be executed.
I remember seeing a post or a tweet somewhere about this accountant in an unspecified company that jotted down her numbers in an Excel sheet and then picked up a calculator to work on them. While absurd, it is not all that different from people duplicating files to archive them before collaborating in the age of Sharepoint versioning (or Google anything, for that matter). It would be the same as me scheduling to add my weight and my runs to the graphs on the sidebar of this site.
What you are looking for in any given project are an output and an outcome. So the constant here is the output, not the way to create it. It’s the outcome, not the way to achieve it. The output I want is a graph that shows visitors of my site how many KM I’ve run this year and how far I am in reaching my goal, but considering that my family, my health and my day job are a higher priority, it is only acceptable for me to have this outcome if it is automated (if you’re asking, it’s a mix between the IFTTT workflow generator, Google Sheets and Data Studio).
But why am I getting into this, do you ask? Well, the situation I described in the previous paragraph is much more about having a specific mindset than about gaining knowledge about the capabilities of automation tools.
Think about the following morning routine: I take my vitamins, warm the baby bottle and make coffee. Since the coffee needs to be on the stove for about seven minutes before the water boils, it is the first thing that I do, because I can warm the milk (~3 minutes) and take my vitamins while I wait. Project management calls this following the critical path, but if you integrate this mindset into your daily chores, things that do need your human attention gain relevance. If you create a collaborative Excel sheet that connects to a PowerBI dashboard instead of updating the data, formatting it properly and sending it to whomever you report to, your clients have more of the necessary human element. Get it?
The proper mindset is asking yourself if you are using up all of the potentials for passive execution.
The accountant with Excel and the calculator was unaware and uninterested in whatever else that product could be doing for her. Her reality was, that she needed to document it and perform calculations with, well, a calculator. Let me ask you this, how long has the number of feedback loops your employees have with you been the same? Maybe standardizing and committing to a Definition of Ready would make sense. Everything can be optimized, not just once, but constantly, preferably in short iterations.
Extrapolate further: think about the ways that modern technologies allow us to increase output with low to no effort. People with YouTube channels, ads, etc. making what they call “passive income” from a single burst of effort to produce non-tangible but repetitively consumable products. That is the mindset shift many are making.
Modern life requires us to multitask more than ever before. Children having both parents present in their lives is an awesome reality, but your mindset is wrong if this comes at the cost of your performance at work. Furthermore, you run the risk of blaming your children for your shortcomings, so it’s high time to put a mindset in play that enables improved outcomes and outputs, delegating the effort to performance optimization and machinery and allowing the human element to thriving where it is needed.