“I know we can always be more efficient…”

I’ve heard this out of the mouths of marketers new and old, for a dozen years. With it, I hear resistance in their tone, sometimes strident, sometimes hesitant.

Being more efficient is an end state that few people get to experience. Thus it remains a cause that people will keep on paying lip service to it until someone really starts to hammer them for it. The reason why so many experienced people don’t paddle in this direction is because they don’t know what the destination looks like.

“Being more efficient” could result in less meaningful or interesting work for them. It could even put them out of a job altogether, in some cases!

There’s also folks who think that becoming more efficient involves swapping one piece of technology for another. This typically involves a costly purchase, a gradual rollout, then a few weeks more of tweaking and training. But whether you “make do” or “trade up”, a system is only as intelligent as the people using it in their work.

I’ve been turning this over in my head for a dozen years, and I think I’ve found a short cut.

Stop thinking about “becoming more efficient”, and instead think about “becoming less awkward”.

Now I know we can all relate to awkward. We’ve all been there: stymied by the difficulty of bringing one piece of information together with another; having a weak system in place; being steps behind where the current technology is, and paying for it with our sweat.

Yes, becoming less awkward will involve research and some trial and error. It will take time outside of normal working hours that you may not have available. It will require a perspective that’s not possible when you’re working inside of the normal bounds of everyday urgency.

But surely the pain of an awkward, convoluted, or discontinuous way of getting work done is a pain you can relate to, and work to minimize. You don’t have to suffer!

Here are five quick questions to help you become less awkward:

  1. What do you need to do?
  2. What is the most awkward thing about doing it?
  3. How much time and energy is it costing you?
  4. How much of that time and energy is too much?
  5. What could be different?

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