inconceivable

pedalsHow many things completely inconceivable just 10 years ago, very expensive or difficult even five years back, are ho-hum (yawn) commonplace today?

I bought a new set of pedals for my mountain bike from the UK. A great set of pedals – a brand that’s hard to find in the US – at a competitive price, $10 shipping, eight business days later and they’re waiting for me in the mail.

A quick photo from my phone and I’ve shared my excitement with friends. An hour or two later and I’m interacting and discussing the pedals with people across timezones, countries, and continents. And I’m doing it essentially for free.

Count the inconceivable impossibilities in the two previous paragraphs. Not only is it hard to grasp all the advances that had to come together to make all of that possible, but it’s even more startling how quickly such an impossibilities became just another Thursday night.

 

Pedals? Who cares? What about work?

This kind of cross-continent coordination, collaboration, and communication is mundane in our private lives, but how much has work kept up?

  • How many policies do we have that are so out of date they might as well be written on papyrus scrolls?
  • How much energy is spent blocking technology and ensuring work gets done in a certain way vs embracing how work might be different?
  • If your job were invented today, would it look the way it does now? How different would your office/workspace be? What technology would you use if you could select it (what technology do you use to get things done in your personal life that you can’t use at work)? Who would you communicate with that you don’t now?
  • How different would recruiting, hiring, and onboarding employees be if we started from scratch today? How would HR workflow be different?
  • What policies would immediately be nuked and what would they be replaced with (if at all) if we were told reinvent the business?
  • How much of an advantage does the lack of legacy give a new business over an established one right now in terms of creating more efficient work?

What are the inconceivable things at work that are completely possible right now? What are we not doing because it was impossible five years ago, but would be cheap and easy to do today?

What thinks you?

 

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7 comments

  1. Great post. Many businesses are hoarders of past good ideas, past practices, past policies and on and on. The ability to know and keep what is still relevant and throw out the old, leaving room for new and improved is not to be taken likely. (And on a completely unrelated topic, the first thing that came to mind when I saw the title of your blog post was “The Princess Bride” – inconceivable!)

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    1. Laurie, I’m not sure that word means what you think it does.Kudos for catching the reference. I originally meant to do more with it, but it distracted from an otherwise short post. The title stayed, though…

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      1. Inconceivable … unimaginable, unthinkable, “No freakin’ way … that is too cool”. Unwillingness to let go of old reduces ability to imagine, create, to say “wouldn’t it be cool …” and then find a way to make the cool and the new happen.

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        1. As I am on a conference call later in the day, it hits me … I wasn’t completely unclear in my first comment. “I’m not sure that word means what you think it means” is another line from the movie … sigh, my very own “DOH” moment … I actually gave myself a smack on the forehead. I am using my moment of “I can’t believe I did that” as inspiration for my next blog post.

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  2. An excellent and timely post Broc. I’ve just spent a week working with a technology company and discussing Big Data. So many companies are fighting to hold back the techno-wave and consequently pay a nasty price as employees hack their way around the restrictions. Also a I spot in the NYT that Yahoo! is attempting to roll back the clock by suspending the workplace flexibility of tele-commuting. Gen Y and all those Millenials out there are going to sweep restrictions away and re-make the world of work.

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    1. Funny, isn’t it. We can make it easy to get work done or we can have people go around us. The future is here no matter how much we deny it. Control is an illusion – we cannot control, only influence and we’ll never influence while we’re trying to control…

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