Keeping up with IT

Today’s Dilbert summed it up beautifully.


As a sole proprietor, and consultant, keeping up with IT in an app/cloud/social universe is pretty much part of my job description on a daily basis. I can’t outsource it.  How would I ever find anything? More than that, I need to have tried it in order to demonstrate knowledge to my clients, and be ready when introduced to new project management apps and internal processes. Being inquisitive nature, learning about new tech has become part of my routine.

When first hanging my virtual shingle a few years ago, a consultant friend of mine had warned me of his IT struggles. They were going to drag me down and tie me up. “Wait and see what I mean” he warned me. Ah yes, I see now.

There is no IT department to troubleshoot when a wireless printer goes rogue and no longer speaks to your computer. I cringe and hope to avoid having to call an outside source as hours have been lost in the past. After the tried and true IT solution of shutting everything down and rebooting several times doesn’t work, my call-centre-call-for-help in desperation answer is to “just use the cord and connect the printer to your computer as if it wasn’t wireless”. Ah ha. Old School wins again.

And then there are the backups: clouds, i-clouds, drop boxes (shared, solo, simple?), external drives, google docs, shared project templates and apps to name a few. Each one uses its own short cuts and escapes, and undo options. “It’s very intuitive” they say. “It will only take a few minutes to learn.”

After almost giving up, and putting myself in the ‘I’m too old for this’ category, I spent two hours one morning on the phone with Apple support trying to get my iPhone photos onto my computer. The solution was a six hour Mac upgrade that was only the first step in addressing an ‘unusual glitch’ that must be a communication problem between my phone and computer – both Apple products. Hmmm. I liked the old operating system better, but was beyond the point of return.

When thinking back to the start of my career,  workplace complaints where about the numerous noisy faxes coming in distracting busy office workers. I clearly remember sitting in an all staff meeting to hear about the move to email, and how we were all going to get email addresses and new systems to communicate internally and externally. The discussion was heated with holdouts saying we had enough phone calls and faxes all ready. People knew how to get in touch with us now, why add another way to contact us? How on earth were we going to keep up with all the channels to reach us? The key to all of this was, and continues to be understanding how our customers want to communicate with us, and being available on those channels. Keeping up with customers is about being relevant to them by evolving and learning new ways of meeting their needs. In working with clients and customers, it’s not about you and your convenience, it’s about theirs.

I often think back and wonder if I had any idea how much impact technology would have on me, and how quickly it was going to change during my career. What I do know is there is no stopping it, and I have to continue to evolve along with it. My phone’s buzzing. A new message is coming in…



Ah, the possibility or impossibility of getting work done at meetings

Where does work happen, he asks in the video. I have lived through the half day meetings where we had to “fill the time” because “the time had been booked”, only to have the participants attend with very different goals: Some reported on the past, some shared ideas for the future, others digressed into minutia on updates that should have been left to one on one meetings. In my facilitator training, I learned this is all too common. I wish I knew then what I know now about setting clear objectives, meeting expectations, and moving forward.

I don’t agree with all in this video shared from a TedTalk, and believe that meetings and events can be a dynamic way to bring out the best ideas, engage and inspire. “Bringing people and ideas together” is my tagline. Yes, sometimes you have to quiet down and do the work, but when you get a dynamic conversation going with a variety of perspectives, great things often happen.