Train of thought

In my role I'm frequently expected to be up to date with all of the latest digital tools and tips. I've actually started to make a point of this in the last few weeks with my '#factfriday' posts on Microsoft Teams. Every Friday I post a new tip (i.e. my latest is a little workaround to extract images/videos from PowerPoint presentations) to try to make the lives of my team easier!

This means I'm often the first person tasked with trying out and testing new tools. For me though, it's as much about how something works as why we may need to use it. Yes - there may be a great new cloud document management platform that IT are supporting but unless there is buy in from the whole team it won't take off at all.

I remember an old colleague telling me that when email was first introduced nobody saw the benefit. Work was getting completed just fine with the methods already in existence. So, to force everyone's hand it became the only way meeting appointments and minutes were communicated. Everyone had no choice but to check it regularly, or risk being completely out of the loop. Fast forward a few years and we exist in a world where many people's inboxes, still are, an overflowing nightmare! Now my goal is to disown email where possible with tools like MS Teams and Slack being preferable. 

But, as above, all it takes is for one person to not be invested in changing their working habits to cause complications. Again, I remember an old senior manager of mine printing out all his emails on a Friday. He then put them in his briefcase to read over the weekend, draft responses and give to his PA to type up and send. That's added admin and slow response times for all involved!

The subtext behind being told you need to train everyone on a new piece of software can be one of two things:
  1. "This new thing is so bizarrely new that no adult Earthling could possibly figure it out without formal training" OR
  2. “This new thing is a pain in my neck and I don’t know how to introduce it. I’ll have someone in the team train everyone and call it a day"
Either way, the expectation is that you to unleash an avalanche of 'training' on innocent people who would rather just do their jobs. Before training commences it actually makes more sense to give the new software to a few people who would benefit most and watch them figure it out. Their struggles (or lack of struggle) will show what support they really need. A help screen or short reference is likely to be enough “training” in this case.

When introducing Trello as a tool, a number of years a ago, we set clear goals as to what we wanted to achieve. These weren't simply to mandate an in depth training session for everyone. Instead we set measurable goals such as eliminating handover meetings, reducing emails by 20%, allowing more remote working and reducing the reliance on flaky shared drives.

These goals didn’t assume that training is the answer, and they justified the expense of the project in terms the organization cares about. It also left room for many solutions, including job aids.

I'm pretty much self taught on most of the software I use. Some of it I'm better at than others, but I like to think that I've made a point of learning those features which are most beneficial to my job. I probably only use about 60% of the features of most of these and I always start with a task I'm looking to achieve before selecting the best way to do it. This can be asking a colleague, watching a video or clicking about hoping not to break something!
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