I sometimes hear the question, "Why should I invest in the tools my people have? We're getting a shiny new tool in a year." To me, what they're really saying is: "Our people are using dull tools now, but that's ok, because in a year they're going to get another, shinier, set of tools, which may or may not be better."

Here's a practical application: I was recently talking with a client about expanding eProductivity usage at his company. He wasn't sure he wanted to, because, he said, "I've heard our company is switching from Notes to Outlook in the next year."

I responded, "Ok; let me ask you, then: would you like your people to get things done at their current level for that time, then reduce that level as you switch?— Or, would you rather get a proven productivity benefit within days, then enjoy that benefit for the next year, and give your people skills and habits to use with any tools?"

Look at this way: if your employees' job was to cut boards, but they were using dull saws, would you leave them well enough alone for a year?

Carpe annum (seize the year)

Whether you're going to be using your current tools (e.g., IBM Notes) for a short or long time, it's good to consider how much value you're getting from them. In most cases, it's not hard to sharpen the saw to get incredible value.

"Value" can be measured in a number of ways:
- How quickly you get things done
- How much of your effort is directed towards the right things to get done
- How confident and focused you are at work
- The speed and precision of your decisions
- Your ability to quickly process inputs and recalibrate

The fact is, the jobs of you and your team are more complicated than cutting boards. Your job, together, is to create value (all of the above and more) for the organization. So the question again is: what if you could use a tool now, with minimal investment, that's designed to make all of this easier?

what if you could make your current tools even easier to use and more productive with minimal investment and effort?
what if you could use a tool that's designed to make all of this easier?

The only thing worse . . .

A senior manager once told Zig Ziglar that he didn't want to waste money training his people only to have them leave. Zig's response was, "The only thing worse than training someone and losing them, is not training them and keeping them."

I take the same view on giving people good tools now. The only thing worse than giving them great tools and losing them, is not giving them great tools and keeping your current level of accomplishment. You can stay there, or get better.

The bottom line

My clients and I have seen eProductivity work hundreds of times. Some of them have even gone out of their way to measure how well it works (ask me for the impact report from PUMA).

I've seen people become more confident, relaxed, de-stressed, in-control, effective, and efficient after only a few weeks (or days) of using it. I've even come back to those people weeks or months later and found they're still working effectively. In some cases, they've even built on what they've learned and moved beyond it!

I've had the privilege of working with some forward-thinking managers and executives who've chosen to help their people. Because of that, they and their teams have gotten more from their systems and learned to think differently about how they work— and they know that what they've learned can be applied to the future to create greater value, no matter what tools they're using.

The client's decision

To me, the decision to give people great tools now and get the most from them is unmistakably clear. It was for my client as well: he decided to expand eProductivity among his people, and he considered it an investment.

He knew it would immediately boost his team's productivity for as long as they were using it. He knew the switch to Outlook may or may not come, but he wasn't deterred from investing in his people by improving their toolkit and skills.

His time, place, position, needs, and team were not unique, and this was his decision. What's yours?

When you're ready to invest in your tools and get greater value in return, give me a call. I can help.

Recently, a coaching client asked me for some recommendations for paper-based resources that would help him implement "Getting Things Done."

I coach executives and professionals who use a variety of systems and tools. No matter how elaborate your systems, I find it's always helpful to have at least a few physical tools: solid reminders of ideas and tasks can be extremely helpful. Plus, the physical act of writing can help your memory and creative thinking.

In light of this, I recommended that he consider the following for his personal GTD system, all of which I've found helpful:

  • GTD system folders: I use these as my filing system away from the office
  • Large zip pouch: This helps keep the folders tidy
  • Notetaker Wallet: This lets me quickly and conveniently capture ideas anywhere. It's important to have this capability, whether you use the wallet or something else
  • Paper organizer: A PDF-format organizer that you can edit or print
Disclaimer: I don't benefit from the sales of these products: these links are provided solely as helpful resources for your consideration.

I was scanning the job board of a client that I serve and found this embedded in the description for an employment position:
Image:So much for starting a job productively (or sanely) 

I would expect this in a job listing for a juggler at a circus, not for a desk job. This is a position for a knowledge worker—someone who "thinks" for a living.

Thinking to create value requires concentration. Concentration requires focus. Both require minimizing distraction both from internal sources (e.g. multitasking) and external (interruptions, distractions). That's just how the mind works most effectively.

In my personal knowledge and information management (PKIM) seminars and workshops, I teach that focus is what you shut in and concentration is what you shut out. These are essentials skills and powerful tools for any worker.

So why would you set up a work environment that makes these things more difficult?

I realize that the HR person who wrote (and misspelled) that description was probably only trying to cover themselves, but I see this all too often.  It still makes me wonder: when will leadership and management get the fact that it takes concentration to create value?