I remember playing on an Atari 2600 video game system. I could hit one button and start playing instantly- and before I knew it, an hour or two would go by, I was mentally psyched up and exhausted from all the jumping, dodging, smashing, grabbing and shooting. The Atari system wasn't mine; I had to go down the street to a friend's house.
Instant gratification vs. purposeful accomplishment
My parents wouldn't buy one, and they limited my time with anyone's system. I ended up reading a lot instead. And doing homework. Thinking. I remember at one point I started deciding for myself that I wanted to get my science fair project done, and that I would rather focus on that an hour a day then play on the Atari system. At the end of an hour playing video games, I was exhilarated, but I got absolutely nothing material done with my project. Games gave me really short term satisfaction. But focusing on the more boring work each day was what helped me be accomplished at the end of the school year.
Is your business a game console for your tech resource?
This past month I've been to nine companies so far where I saw something the business owner didn't, at first. In all cases, the business had someone already assigned to technology. Sometimes an employee, other times a technician, and even in a few cases a service provider on contract, like a managed service provider (MSP). In all cases the business owner felt something was wrong. Dollars were being spent, computers were being bought, iPhones and iPads were being bought, but the company's employees productivity wasn't improving and the business owner was truly unable to say whether or not their company's data was safe and restorable in the event of a disaster. They had no proof.
When I look at where their tech's time is going, I see the same things:
- The tech is often reacting to and fixing virus issues and patches (think Space Invaders)
- The tech's configuring devices and computers and all the software and settings reactively to make things work (think Tetris)
- The tech is spending almost all their time fixing problems and feels that she doesn't have time to take steps to prevent some of them (think Galaga).
The techs are often really good at playing the game. They can make the asset you bought (new computer, tablet, phone) fit as it's coming down the pipe at them. They can squash bugs and problems like there's no tomorrow. When they're done with their day or onsite appointment, it's time to take a breather until they show up again, or come back to work. Then the game starts all over again.
Take a second look at your business
When I come in to the business to get things under control, I ask for information. I want to know what the standards are, where the checklists are, where the license information is. It's usually not available; most of the time it doesn't exist. There's usually no budget with notes outlining how assets will be acquired and to whom they will go to and what the expectations of performance are. This kind of stuff isn't fun. It takes hours of thinking and writing and planning. There's no instant gratification. So why is it most techs are wrapped up in problem solving to the point they feel they have no time left each day?
Because it's a lot more gratifying to play the game each day. And more problems pop up when the boring business stuff - disciplined planning and documentation - hasn't been done. And a technical resource isn't the same as a planning/strategy resource. Would you take an excellent bookkeeper and make him your CFO? Why would you do the same with a tech?
If you're a business owner, I recommend you take a second look at your technology. Is it a project with a purpose, or does it seem more like your business is one big gaming console? If you'd like an outside opinion, contact me. I help business owners with their technology as a fractional CIO, even if you already have a technician.