Warning: Your Company is WASTING Money.
Companies are throwing away money. The bottom line is sick. Margins are dying.
In my last post I said the number one sign of “Information Inefficiency” is the clipboard. To take Lean and Six Sigma to the next level, a disruption must occur. The workplace experience must be transformed. However, accomplishing true disruption will take more than replacement of each paper process one by one with a virtual process. Replacing each clipboard in your company with a tablet is simply not enough.
Your company is losing money to the clipboard mindset.
The clipboard mindset has several symptoms:
- The worker capturing information cannot easily pass that expertise to new employees.
- The information lives in an abbreviated form until the worker adds context elsewhere.
- The form/paperwork itself requires training before it can be utilized.
- It takes more than a day for the information to “go digital”.
The clipboard mindset is pervasive in the digital era. Your workforce may not carry around paper forms on a clipboard with a No. 2 pencil anymore by my experience with hundreds of companies is that the inefficiencies of the clipboard mindset spread like a virus into our laptops, tablets, and smart phones.
What’s the real cost of clipboard mindset?
#1 – Delayed information symmetry.
Imagine the three most important pieces of information for your P&L. Where did it originate? Where does it go? How long did that take? In economics, information asymmetry is a crucial element of Game Theory and the Nash Equilibrium. In a zero-sum game in which each player tries to make a decision based on the potential decisions of every other player, “information asymmetry” is like being the only poker player who can see another player’s cards. While we typically apply this to businesses competing with one another, the same can apply to every decision that will impact more than one person.
Although it is not possible to know the same information that your competition knows about themselves, minimizing the time it takes to know your own business is critical. In the information age, information symmetry up and down and across the organization must be instantaneous to keep decisions informed. A clipboard delays information symmetry between the person who gained the insight and the person who needs to make a decision about it.
#2 – Social Decontextualization.
Whatever piece or pieces of information you’re imagining right now, this information is fundamentally social in nature. How often does it need additional explanation? How long does it take to get that explanation, or – worse yet – how often do you dismiss it because an explanation isn’t available?
Whether that information came from a conversation with an employee, a site visit by a sales manager, or diagnostic output from specialized machinery, every clipboard – physical or digital – is missing human context. Every checkbox strips out nuance, every fill-in-the-blank limits information sharing, every abbreviated word gambles against forgetfulness. Context is fundamental to human expression. Why is it decontextualization so inefficient? The social and tribal part of our brains and makes decisions has no capacity to understand language. As Simon Sinek shares,
Our newest brain, our Homo Sapien brain, our neocortex, corresponds with the “what” level. The neocortex is responsible for all of our rational and analytical thought and language. The middle two sections make up our limbic brains, and our limbic brains are responsible for all of our feelings, like trust and loyalty. It’s also responsible for all human behavior, all decision-making, and it has no capacity for language.
Sharing the feeling of the moment is the most important element of taking one person’s social context and passing it to another as actionable information. A clipboard captures very little of our context so that is not passed from the person who felt the moment and the person who needs to make a decision about it.
#3 – Decision Fatigue.
If your company has introduced a wellness program, you may have already heard of the idea of “presenteeism” – showing up to work for your normal day but so “out of it” that the contribution is well below 100%. While the wellness community focuses on the impact of poor-but-not-quite-sick “physical” health, the clipboard mindset is the root of another form of presenteeism: decision fatigue.
The neuroscience of decision-making shows that the entire brain and even a fair amount of the body uses up resources in the process of turning executive function into action. The more you have to recall from long-forgotten memories, the higher the level of attentiveness required, the more stress or other emotions that get involved, and the greater the threat or potential reward of the moment – these drain taxing multiple systems in a smartphone (geolocation, graphics processing, bluetooth) drain the battery of a smartphone.
Problematically, while we can make other plans for getting directions if our smartphone battery dies, when our decision-making “battery” is exhausted, we often have several hours of work and decisions to make! Feeling stuffy due to allergies may reduce your attentiveness, but hitting the decision fatigue wall at 2pm causes the brain to rely purely on fight, flight, or freeze. This type of presenteeism doesn’t just make us less efficient, it makes us overreact, avoidant, or complacent about the status quo.
While productivity experts will recommend structuring your day and creating a routine that removes unnecessary decisions, these are the low-hanging fruit of decision fatigue.
Transformative mobility revolutionizes businesses by tackling the the toughest, most painful consequences of decision fatigue – adding context, recommending information, removing fear of failure, minimizing the need of distant memories, communicating instantly rather than adding the fear of forgetting the meaning of your own notes.
Breaking the Clipboard Mindset
If your current Mobility Strategy has left the clipboard mindset intact, move the conversation to finding ways improving the workplace experience can increase the engagement and effectiveness of your employees:
- Capture context seamlessly – location, weather conditions, and biometric data are all becoming simpler to capture along with the information the employee adds
- Use visual cues rather than words – The decision-making part of the brain doesn’t read the words, use photo, video, and metaphor rather than words
- Help answer questions – don’t just fill in the blank: one choice should simplify the next choice by narrowing the possible options, reducing the stress of poor decisions
- Proactively provide information – from geofencing to notifications, employees should not hunt for what they need – it should already be there
- Rely on search over personal memory – a simple front-end and powerful back-end will empower workers to find what they need rather than memorizing it
STOP wasting money!
The clipboard mindset is destroying the ROI of your human and IT resource investments, perpetuating bad margins through inefficiency and ineffectiveness, it is time to break yourself and your company free.
If you are looking for ideas or training on these concepts for you and your team, send me a message.