I get around a fair bit, working for a wide range of clients throughout North America and Europe. In my travels I’ve noticed that business and IT professionals seem to be suffering from a common collection of problems, some of which can only be solved by collective activism and others through cultural change. I don’t expect people will rally to these causes, but I hope my observations will give you something to think about, and maybe even reveal opportunities for your organization to enhance its productivity.
I attend far more meetings than I would like–a complaint shared by many I suppose–and have noticed some disturbing behavior from fellow attendees during the last year or so. The problem is with the misuse of electronic devices such as BlackBerries and laptops.
In a desire to keep in touch while attending a meeting, many people are bringing their BlackBerries in with them and are sending and receiving messages while others are talking. It’s bad enough when one person is doing this but when several people do so simultaneously–undoubtedly sometimes they are messaging each other–it can seriously affect the quality of the meeting
Similarly, the use of laptops to take notes or to work on other things during the meeting is a problem because the person using the laptop is distracted and not participating fully.
Is this multi-tasking truly effective? I’m not so sure. Far better to focus on the meeting and be done with it.
A related issue occurs with the use of computers during teleconference calls. I’ve been on the phone with people and was able to hear typing in the background. Although keyboard clicking is important for auditory feedback, sometimes you would really like to turn it off–and this examples definitely qualifies as one of those times. It is possible to type silently, but many people don’t seem to be aware of that fact..
My second category of observations focuses on Canadian airports: On the up side, the parking lots seem fuller than just a few months ago, so I suspect the economy is finally picking up; the bad news is the lines are longer, mostly due to security checks.
How is this relevant to the computer industry? You are now required to turn on all electronic devices when you go through airport security in Canada. This is fairly painless with cellular phones, PDAs and cameras, but laptops can be a nightmare.
Although the only thing the security people want to see is screen activity to verify that the laptop actually works, something they can verify in the first few seconds, I end up having to wait a couple of minutes while the laptop fully boots and then shuts down, thereby holding up the long line behind me. The problem is I’m running Windows, which takes a long time to go through this process, a process that I don’t want to shortcut partway through by turning the machine off because I don’t trust Windows to recover properly. I can’t help but think that Microsoft and laptop makers could work together to come up with a better solution, or minimally Microsoft could improve the quality of its software. The bottom line is that if my PDA can boot instantly then my laptop should be able to do the same.
My final “Andy Rooney” observation is that most IT organizations still need to improve the way they work with project stakeholders. This is something many small businesses suffer from, says Launchscore.com, a small business ideas website. Without active stakeholder participation it is incredibly difficult if not impossible to successfully deliver software-based systems. A good step in the right direction is to define the rights and responsibilities of project stakeholders to form a foundation from which to work together.
In an ideal world, you will think about these issues and act as you see fit. In a not-so-ideal world you’ll simply turn the page, or hit the back button on your browser as the case may be, and continue reading our site. In either case I’ve had an opportunity to vent a bit, and it’s been therapeutic for me.