Everyone who espouses the Work Smarter Not Harder lifestyle, raise your hand. Yes, even you in the back. The motion is carried unanimously. Or at least it should be, right?
I mean, everyone has moments where you’ve got yourself dug in, and you just decide, “that’s it, I’m going to eat the whole elephant” But I really and truly believe that when you get to that point, you know you’re being irrational. You do. Well, OK, I do.
Which brings us to this week. As you know, I work in the education technology. At $Dayjob, we have a monthly release cadence. One of the tasks that I usually have is to post all of our team’s release resources – guides, help packages, release notes and known issues and good stuff like that. It’s not a difficult task, but it’s a task that has about 837 steps. I’ve been doing it for a while, and I like it. When we moved to the hosting solution we have now, it instantly became waa-aaay easier than under the old regime. But was still 837 steps.
After more-months-than-I-should-admit, I clued in to the fact that that not *everything* had to be done on release day. There were some steps that I could do to front-load my week, so I started spreading the effort over 2 or 3 days before release day. That meant that over half the day’s tasks were 95% done before I even put on pants on Release Day. SmartypantsDance! It also meant that if the Release Day Gremlins were being particularly sassy, we had a chance to troubleshoot. And if you’ve ever worked in high-tech, you know that software gremlins are always most sassy on Release Day.
I was feeling pretty smart about my load-balancing genius until last month, when I realized I was still doing 837 steps, I was just doing them at a more leisurely pace. Imagine if there was a way to get rid of some of those steps altogether! What a glorious day that would be!
[insert foreshadowing music here.]
I took a technical editing course ages ago, and one of the things that the facilitator said was that when you found an error, start back a sentence or two. She said that if there are two errors in a sentence, you’re likely to only find the first one, because you skip ahead, thinking that you already checked that sentence when you found something. I didn’t look for a way to ditch some of the 837 steps because I’d already got rid of the biggest pain point by spreading out the steps. I stopped looking for the next improvement.
Back in the fall, I listened to BigBossman spitball some ideas about how our educational technology company was well positioned to help re-train people who would be displaced by artificial intelligence in the next bunch of years. A few days ago, I read an interview he gave to the Waterloo Record about preparing for the next industrial revolution. He shared more about how e-learning (and our company) can help re-educate a workforce.
And then, there was the clue-by-four to the head. This whole time, there was a way to get rid of some of my 837 steps staring me right in the face. The next industrial revolution. Automation. I can schedule things to post so that I don’t have to manually do them. I felt pretty smart about super-sleuthing a way to get rid of some of the 837 steps altogether, and proposing a way to load-balance the team to get rid of more of the 837 steps. I felt pretty smart about all this until I starting writing today, and realized that I’d be scheduling this very post. Like I do *regularly* with this blog when I’m writing late at night or the day before a usual post day.
You know how education is a life-long journey? *sigh*. Yeah, good thing.