2016-12-15-dishwasher

The Technology Paradox/Let’s Do Dishes

This post originally appeared on the blog of the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation

Quick: How many passwords do you have right now? Fifty? Eighty? Is it too many to count? Do you even know?

For me, it’s a least a hundred. Each software “solution” or site has different password requirements: Facebook, Twitter, PC Domain, Office 365, Sertifi, Office Depot, Intacct, Fluxx, Grants Managers Network, Southern Bancorp, Nexonia…I could go on, probably forever. It’s a seemingly impossible task to keep it all straight. But keep it straight we must. I submit to you that the level of pain we wish to endure regarding technology is actually up to us.

How, you ask? Truth be told, you already know the answer: software has become an indispensable tool for us to do our jobs, but we choose how much of it to take on. We can’t work without it. If we aren’t careful, though, it can become so frustrating that it leads to Productivity Paralysis™. You can get crushed–at least emotionally–beneath the weight of it.

Think about it. Your organization comes up with a new process or workflow using a nifty new software. They send you a lovely how-to guide, or maybe even create a handy 30-minute instructional video–which you will TOTALLY watch as soon as you get some time–and now it’s six weeks later and that thing you have to do in the workflow is way past due. And then you ask yourself, “Where is that email with the how-to guide and the 30-minute video I really never had time to watch?” And then you have to go, hat in hand, to the person that wrote the instructions and admit total defeat. Multiply that times all of your responsibilities and technology interactions every day, and you have yourself a raging case of Productivity Paralysis™.

Of course, this is the worst-case scenario. I’m here to tell you that you can avoid this situation by inoculating yourself. It just takes preparation and discipline.

All of us at WRF have lived some form of this story out more than once in the past few years. Recently, we made it a point to tackle Productivity Paralysis™ by making technology and internal workflow training a priority. If the preceding paragraph sounds boring, tedious, and time-consuming to you, rest assured, you are not alone. It is the reason the issue exists in the first place. We always think we can put off providing training for new technology. We often put it off until it’s too late to save ourselves.

Does this sound like a daunting task? Perhaps an anecdote will help: I spoke with a colleague once about how overwhelmed I felt with all my responsibilities. She told me to “empty out your dishwasher.” She saw my puzzled look and said, “If your house is a wreck, you don’t have to clean it up all at once. Do a little at a time. So, just today, empty out your dishwasher.”

Sage advice. Regarding tech with which you interact daily: empty out your dishwasher.

Regarding new stuff? See below.

If we invest a little (or a whole lot of) time on the front end when a new software or workflow gets introduced, it can save you hours and hours and hours of headaches down the road.

Create a process as a team. Take the time to train. Create standard operating procedures and stick to them. Don’t be too embarrassed to ask questions. And the truth is, I’m guessing you aren’t using 30 percent of what the technology available to you is capable of doing. A little training and you can leverage that to spectacular effect.

Learn from our mistakes. We certainly have. And our dishes have never been cleaner.

Michael Castens

As the grants and operations manager for Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation, Michael Castens works primarily with the chief operating and financial officer as well as the vice president to maintain an ongoing connection between the Foundation's strategic plan and its day-to-day operations.