I’ve come to a realization in my career. One that in retrospect has been true all of my career and could be one of the most significant indicators of the long-term success, or failure, of businesses and organizations big and small. Keyboard Clicks.
I’ve been thinking about recent observations and then comparing them to observations I’ve made as I have worked with businesses ranging from mom and pop pizza restaurant delivery services to the U.S. Military. As you walk around organizations – including you own – do you hear a ton of keyboard clicking? If you do, then you might think, “Wow, this is a busy, and therefore productive and profitable place.” But in reality, that is the sound of complacency.
Over time, I’ve seen businesses go through this pattern:
- They find a cool (or not so cool) piece of software.
- They use it to really ramp up their organization, usually using it as their cornerstone.
- They hit a plateau where they rely on that software – and the clicking that goes into it.
They don’t continue to improve in what they do, nor do they grow. They keep on doing the same old thing – over and over – for years. Sure, they increase revenue over time and hire more people. But, that’s the thing – they have to hire more and more people to keep clicking keyboards to increase that revenue. But, at the end of the day, the CEO (and worse yet the Board and investors) wonder why they don’t see stronger growth.
So, what does that CEO – or you as a competent product owner/ analyst/technology leader looking to make a difference in your organization – need to be looking at?
- Automate and stop the keyboard clicking – let people focus on more important things like working with other people. Others in the organization to help it grow and do the things only people can do, talk to customers to help them with the problems people solve best. (Radical, I know!) And, as a bonus, you will remove human error.
- Process Improvement – if you can’t remove the clicking, can you reduce it?
- Strategy – has your organization taken a fresh look at its short-term and long-term strategies? Is it stuck and needs to get unstuck and grow into new areas?
I challenge you to stop right now and listen. What do you hear? Do you hear a ton of keyboard clicking? What are you going to do about it?