I was on my way back to the US from Bangalore, and there is a sentence that keeps banging around in my head. The sentence is as follows: “An idiot with a tool is still an idiot!” If someone else has already been quoted on this, I will gladly give them credit.
Regardless of whether it is an original thought or not, it paralels across our personal and corporate lives. I can’t tell you the number of times I have bought some gadget or software that I thought was cool, but wasn’t sure how I was going to use it. I have tools that I don’t know how to use. Having a tablesaw or a router does not make me a carpenter.
How many of us have bought treadmills and other exercie equipment thinking it would help us lose weight? Yet did we bother to change our lifestyle? Did we cut back on cookies, potato chips, and McDonalds? Just because you have exercise equipment does not make you a personal trainer.
We buy self help books telling us how to deal with difficult bosses, how to budget our way to a million dollars, and how to succeed in management. Unless we make changes in ourselves, we will never achieve our original goals. We are an idiot with a tool.
Corporations are much the same way. We buy software products from vendors like Salesforce.com, Microsoft, Oracle, and IBM to name a few. The vendors tell us that there latest/greatest tool will be the silver bullet the customer is looking for, making the company lots of money, and our worklives better. What most of us fail to realize is that, to achieve those benefits, we need to change our culture. We may need to change our team, department, or even corporate culture. Every corporation has a virtual boneyard of stuff they have purchased based on someone’s recommendation that ends up not being accepted by the company. Even worse are those tools and processes that get implemented without much thought for what has to change and end up costing more than the original benefits. How many projects start off with someone saying “This software doesn’t do what we need. We need to make changes”?
Tools (software and processes) don’t solve problems. People solve problems. Tools merely speed up the change. Don’t buy the tool unless you know how to invoke the change to get it accepted.
Thanks for coming in today.