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A quick word of warning, this post is born from a conversation with one of my children. I am proud of my children but do realise the limitations in how interesting they may be to others. Happily, it is not one of those “I look at how my children use technology and I see the future…” observations (maybe).  I hope there is some use here, however.

 

Looking out across the HR Tech World exhibition floor, I was reminded about the management of process and the flow of work. Many, if not most, of the technology on show is intended to improve the accuracy, efficiency and productivity of the effort of work and those who do it. Clearly, there is much room for improvement here and it’s great to see such focus on it. We have all suffered from corporate system fatigue and lost ourselves in processes designed for those who manage process rather than get things done. Increasingly, I believe, we have better tools for work outside of the working environment than those within. Work tools are different from those developed for “being an employee”.

 

This is where my son comes in. He is learning about the processes and disciplines of recording music in a studio. (I envy him dangerously). There are methods and principles to apply. There are tools to use and there are tools to chose. There are established methods and documented approaches but in a creative process (with a due nod to Sir Ken Robinson’s keynote address) there is an opportunity and even a responsibility to experiment. There is a vocational route here as well – this is learning about work and part of how the music industry works.

 

Perhaps this is something to study more deeply and learn how it is done ‘professionally and properly’, I asked (in that parental way). It turns out that this may be a bad plan. The wisdom of the teaching staff is that there are things to learn about technology but that it is best “to find and develop your own worklflow”. A good studio producer, engineer or whatever will have ways of working that are effective for them and that they have worked out from experience. This is part preference of kit and software, part the ordering of activity and part finding your rhythm Gaining the experience is the education – learning by doing. Creativity is fundamental to the method as well as the music.

 

There is something to learn here for workplace technologies. Really productive people and teams find the best ways to use their tools for them. The digital teams changing the rules of production are expert in this. Good workplace technologies need to afford this flexibility in application and output and enable individuals and teams to discover and work in the way that is most effective for the tasks and problems at hand. This is one of the reasons that Slack is such a popular tool. We can all use it (together) in the ways that our projects, teams and preferences require. It is not a process.

 

Yes. Process is needed. But let’s not overclaim what a technology does and can achieve. Quick, simple processes are always preferred and to be celebrated. There is also real value in supporting people in making and finding their own workflow and honing what works best for them. In my own use of tools for work I knit together output from powerpoint, Firefox, Evernote, Google Keep, Docs, Office, Calendar, Slack and so on. I have ways of using them and choosing them – habits and methods which I prefer. Each has a merit and a place and I am free to choose amongst them. This will not be them same as a colleague or as next week but it will work for me, for now.

 

About the Author

 

Myles Runham is an experienced senior leader in both learning services and digital business, having worked in around the internet for 20 years. He has a track record for strategy development and delivery in a variety of digital services, taking ideas from inception, through business case and into launch and operational management. You can follow him @mylesrun.