Are you Automating, or Empowering

Project 2012: Day 244

I had a discussion with a friend at church last Saturday. We’re considering replacing a 15+ year old analogue sound desk with a newer digital desk.

We agreed not to progress the discussion.

All a digital desk would do, at this stage, is automate part of the sound engineering process. Rather than empowering the creativity of the worship team.

And don’t get me wrong, as a technologist, guitarist, drummer, and sound engineer, I personally would love a digital desk.

But first we need to understand the long term strategy, then the worship strategy, then our goals. Then we should decide the technology to enable those goals.

Easy Trap

Judging from the RFP’s I read weekly at work, this “automation” trap is an easy one for us to fall into. But a dangerous one.

Yes, technology allows us to automate business processes. But the automation isn’t the end goal. Rather it’s the empowerment of the business. Actually that statement is erroneous too. It’s the empowerment of the people in the business. Your colleagues, friends, peers, team. You.

Wrong Metrics

Have you heard of a “pineapple metric?” This is where a goal is reported as green, but is actually orange on the inside. In other words you’re measuring the wrong thing. Either it’s something you can count (easily) rather than something you should count; or it’s something that is easy to report on, that doesn’t reflect an actual result.

I’ll give you an easy example here…

…Your annual review conversation. How many of those are “ticked” in the system, so the metric for HR comes up green – all performance conversations are complete – yet staff feel unempowered, and disengaged.

This is what happens when you focus technology on automation, rather than empowerment.

Be the Change

Do you have systems that automate processes, whilst disempowering staff? They could be expenses, travel systems, CRM, time-sheeting, Point of Sale…

…any IT mediated system.

You have the unique position in your organisation to force a change. To tweak the system, or the reporting from the system from one of automation, to one that empowers people.

You have the authority to free staff up to be their creative, collaborative, productive geniuses that you hired them for. To give them systems they want to use.

…and you have the position to automate more.

The choice is yours.

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