Software

Ditch your BlackBerry


It is a lovely Sunday morning over here in Singapore. Yes, the fact that I am GMT +8 does play a pivotal part in me seeing the new day already when most of you folks in the UK or the US are still sleeping or having a late night. (I suspect it would be the latter)

Anyway, I digress. What I mean to say is that today is the perfect kind of day to catch-up on some of the non bleeding-edge stuffs that might have slipped under the radar in the course of the week.

I have just finished reading an interview by CIO Insight with David Allen, author of Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity. The title of the piece is, yes, you guessed it: Ditch your BlackBerry.

Now, before you dismiss it outright as just another marketing gimmick, I do find myself agreeing with Allen’s thinking.

Being the productivity guru here, Allen maintains that IT tools such as e-mail, instant messaging and such helps speed up the flow of information; they really do nothing to help people manage or utilize them better. To quote from the article:

And while PDAs and digital organizers can be useful for people who start out well organized, they do little for those who don’t.

... both the computer and telephone are two-edged swords. If you are unproductive to being with, technology will add something else you are unproductive about. If you are highly productive, you can certainly use technology to facilitate work

The rest of the article talks more on increasing productivity in a technological-centric environment but with judicious application of IT. And of course:

… We don’t use BlackBeries. I think a lot of BlackBery usage is out there because people don’t process their e-mails. Most of us at my company keep our backlog of unprocessed messages pretty clean. When you do that, you don’t necessarily need to see e-mails but once a day.

So what do you think? Has technology really helped us become more productive? Or is it really just wishful thinking with a liberal sprinkling of techno lust for the latest gadgets. Join the discussion.

About

Paul Mah is a writer and blogger who lives in Singapore, where he has worked for a number of years in various capacities within the IT industry. Paul enjoys tinkering with tech gadgets, smartphones, and networking devices.

7 comments
dogknees
dogknees

I agree that a major problem is that the disorganized expect a tool to improve their organizational skills. If you don't already have those skills, no tools will help! I might go so far as to say, if you don't have those skills and if this causes you problems in your job, you need to change jobs to something that doesn't need good organization skills. You have the right to have a job, you don't have the right to have any job you want regardless of your abilities and personality. The rise of middle management has brought many people who just aren't suited to management into these positions. Perhaps it's time we took a step back and looked at what sort of people should be in managerial positions, and not assume that any person/professional should ultimately rise to a position in management. Surely it's not in anyones interest to have managers who aren't efective. It's not good for their subordinates, and it's not good for their employer. And, ultimately, it's not good for them if they are constantly feeling out of their depth. I'm sure this is the cause of much of the stress these people feel in their lives. I've no desire to be a manager myself, and I've accepted the fact that this means I won't be paid the same as managers, regardless of seniority or skill. But, I'll get to keep doing work that I enjoy and that gives me an intellectual challenge. Something I value for higher than the money. Regards

Tig2
Tig2

Technology should be a facilitator, not the end itself. From a business perspective, I find that I must write and send the email, print the email, and walk the print to the intended recipient in order for them to take action. I worked for a guy who did this. I was pretty offended because I followed things through. I became less productive as a result of what I saw to be micro-managing. Ugly surprise? He was right. I assume that if I tell you something and follow it up in a note, you know what I have told you and are prepared to manage your part. WRONG!!! I had better be prepared to take more action if I actually want you to follow through. Why? And Blackberries? Crackberries is more like it. They are an addictive way to gloss through your inbox, never really giving anything a clear read. But it looks good! I get in the car, I toss my cell into the back seat. It is there if I need it. I use my PDA the way I want to and in a manner that works for me. I read my work email on work time and not on mine. There is a point where we must discover that the productivity tools in our lives only function the way we use them. They don't underline our important events, don't tell us that we are missing important content, really do little at all without our own brain coming into play. We should be doing only what we CAN do and using those tools that facilitate what we can do. I'm analysing people and culture with respect to security. Blackberry won't help there. My MIND will.

paulmah
paulmah

I think you nailed the problem on the head. This is probably the main reason why (some studies) peg the figure for IT project failures at as high as 50%. Companies spent loads of money on IT, with the expectation that it will help increase turnover. What they fail to see is that IT is only a multiplier. If internal process is a zero (a mess), then the outcome will still be a big fat zero.

Tig2
Tig2

It is still very difficult to help business to understand when they are "barking up the wrong technology tree" and we don't have empirical evidence to help us out on this. Give the staff Blackberries so they will be more connected. OK. What if the staff doesn't give a rip after they have concluded the business day? I take business process into account in all of my projects so that I can provide an honest ROI. If the process won't support the primary goals, I recommend against the project. But that is me. Others may easily not take my view.

short fuse
short fuse

Yes, most of my successful projects have been evolutions of less automated business processes such as migrating from spreadsheets that don't cut it, to full blown multi-user custom applications. Most of my unsuccessful projects have been ones where rather than being forced to automate and refine proccesses by necessity, management wants to improve productivity and selects some impressive off-the-shelf application that is filled with flexible features when ridged, lock the user in workflows and accountablity are the need.

paulmah
paulmah

So what do you think? Has technology really helped us become more productive? Or is it really just wishful thinking with a liberal sprinkling of techno lust.

osde8info
osde8info

you may have heard that phones4you in the UK banned email itself to increase productivity !