Unfolding plans 178 – Out of the toolbox

The topic for this round of presentations has been ‘Out of the Toolbox’.  The title is an obvious reference to thinking outside the box but also attempts to draw us back to the work that we do. It was Saul Kaplan who said that we need to take our ideas off the white board and into the real world and we need to get our tools out of the toolbox to deliver our services.  Remember that the service we provide is essential to keeping the Council going.  Nothing runs without what we do. If we were to switch off the ICT or support services now, how long would it be until the rest of the business began to squeal?  It would be minutes or even seconds.

We use a range of tools to deliver these services and in many ways the services themselves rely upon us either as tools to help them deliver or providers of tools that does the same.  I’m not suggesting that any of us are tools by the way!

The range of tools at our disposal is large if we include all of the technology, the applications and processes yet we should not forget about the softer tools available to get our work done.   All trades are the same in this respect.  We all have tools to deliver the goods.  The potter has his wheel, the blacksmith has her anvil and the ICT person has their….  Well what do we have?  Imagine that your boiler had broken down at home and you rang your plumber.  You would hope that they arrived with the appropriate tools, a pipe cutter, a blow torch and some wrenches perhaps.  You wouldn’t be very happy if they turned up in a bowler hat and pin-striped suit.  So what do our customers expect from us when we turn up?

Presumably, they would expect us to have the right tools with us but do we know what they are?  Do we have them at our disposal? Do we know what is missing?

A tool is defined as anything used as a means of accomplishing a task or purpose.  A hammer is a tool, so is a screwdriver, and so is a computer. A piece of software is a tool yet just as important are the intangible tools we have. An idea, a process, or a technique is a tool too.  The presentations that we do are tools for the purpose of conveying ideas to an audience.

We all have our own toolbox. The collection of things we use to do our jobs. We’ve built them up over the years.  Some of them are real physical things. Some of them are just in our heads.  Some we have borrowed. Some we were given. Some we have invented. Some we’re attached to. Some we hate but have to use. Some we use every day. Some we’d forgotten about. Some of them are versatile. Some only do one thing.

Since the dawn of time humans have been using tools to improve efficiency and lower cost.  It is a trend that will only speed up as more and more of our tools move from the physical to the virtual.  It is also a subject I’ll get a few more blogs out of.  That’s a useful tool.

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