Process > technology

I’m sitting in my new home office on March 16, 2020. Two days ago most of the District of Columbia was told to begin full time work from home and I unable to get into anything work related on my computer.  For the next two weeks my office of 17 will fight with tens of thousands of others for less than 1,600 VPN slots.  Once my team is up and running, we will discover a new problem: the hyperactive hive mind.

Collaborative software was necessary for white collar America’s shift to remote work during the pandemic, but it was not sufficient.  As this essay points out, the IT infrastructure once only available to large corporations is now available to small businesses.  However, poor process will remain so regardless of the technology being employed.

Seven years ago, I was sitting again but in a conference room learning Eli Goldratt’s Theory of Constraints. I was the only one in uniform, everyone else at the table has decades of industrial experience: Gary in aircraft repair, Johnnie in production control, and Grant in supply chain management. That group taught me that only direct labor can make physical work go faster. It is indirect labor’s responsibility to harness that power as effectively and efficiently as possible. Since then I have viewed the world through the lens of workflow.

It’s been two months of COVID lockdown and I’m sitting again at my home office desk, listening to Kyle frustratingly explain how virtual meetings are squeezing productivity from his day. He’s at the beck and call of anyone with a question. He spends more time talking about the work he needs to do more than working and his days have extended until after the kids’ bedtime. Just as a physical work can be out of control, so can knowledge work.

I founded Workflow Leadership & Design to help companies of any size synchronize, collaborate, and focus better. We bring people together through data toward a shared vision. We use a broad definition of productivity, integrate relationships, and encourage simple solutions.

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