I recently had a virtual conversation with someone who asked where is all this efficiency that was promised to us with digital information systems? He said that we are getting all these new tools and if anything people seemed to be doing more and productivity has not necessarily increased. He wasn’t sure that he was any better than before.
I think back to my younger days in the 60s and 70s when I actually read things in paper format. You remembers books, magazines and news papers from last century, right? Now I read e-Books in PDF format, get news from FoxNews.com and read the Small Wars Journal blog online. Well, one of my favorite magazines was Popular Mechanics and I would recall their frequent articles telling me of the future of jet packs and flying cars in the 21st Century. I would imagine that by the time I reached middle age, surely I would have a personal flying device to get me around like the Jetsons did. I think I was gypped.
I summed it with the assertion that digital systems are no more going to solve our problems and increase productivity than the internet is going to replace the printing press. If we don’t change the process that support or go along with those new information systems we will never reach the productivity envisioned. If you throw a magic box/software/program/widget in to an established organization and don’t adjust the way you accomplish a task (left, right, up, down), then you are likely to not see much of a different output. Define Insanity? Doing The same thing and expecting a different outcome.
I am not saying throw the baby out with the bath water and every new system requires a fresh piece of paper nor that you need to renegotiate how you do everything. The tasks and the standards don not changes, but the conditions do. You do need to evaluate and assess your processes and how it impacts from end-to-end and determine the tweaks necessary to streamline the old process because of the new tool.
And maybe if we get that right we will have more time to make a real flying car.