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Self-inflicted Frustration

Dave Kinnear1-On Leadership


I rather regularly do this to myself. I get frustrated with a process that has been in place for awhile. Then, I go through a flurry of activity to investigate different solutions. Eventually, I settle on living with my present frustration or, more often than not, opting for new frustration.

This past couple of months has seen a bunch of changes I am 

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forcing on myself (and my partner). I’ll start with the biggest disruption. For some time I have been agitating to change our banking institution. We’ve been with them, or a predecessor,  since 1991. They have been doing just fine from a service point of view. For me, the rub was ethics and values. So my partner (who does all the business and personal finances) is taking the brunt of all the considerable work to change financial institutions. We found a new, more acceptable institution that would take both personal and business accounts and signed up. It’s a long process and, from a financial process point of view, unnecessary. It’s a values/ethics issue.

Business Process:

Here’s another self-imposed change. I have been using the same social media “aggregator/scheduler” for about five years. Up until recently, it has been fine. For the most part, it is still okay. Recently though, it has been failing to find the images in the third party posts I am forwarding. Various user blogs showed that others were also frustrated by that difficulty. The answer from the software vendor was that they were following the Facebook criteria for how images should be placed in posts. If the post didn’t follow the Facebook methodology, they wouldn’t find the image.

That sent me into a minor rage. I closed my Facebook account at least 18 months ago. Recently I filed to have it permanently deleted. So to be told that I can’t use other blogs because they don’t follow the Facebook criteria was grounds for immediate change. AND . . . the usual frustration of having to learn a whole new way of doing what I could almost do blindfolded before. I use this software for a couple of hours every week. So the added time it takes me now is significant. I know it will get better. But for now it’s a minor burden.

Data Backup:

The same thing has happened with backing up our office computers. For years I’ve used a popular program for cloud backup of files. The difficulty is that the software isn’t keeping up with my needs — unless I want to pay significantly more. I think they aren’t keeping up with what their competition is doing.

Bottom line is, after a few hours of research, I’ve signed up for a new backup service that allows me to back up all my external Drives, unlimited space and files. They do this for a bit less cost per year than the previous service charged without the ability to back up external drives.

This is important to me because I keep all my digital images on one or both of two large external drives (a 5 Terabyte and an 8 Terabyte drive). Raw digital images (especially from full frame cameras) take up a huge amount of space. So do video files, of course. So I keep all but the previous year’s files on the external drive and work with this year’s images on the internal workstation drives.

Picture This:

For several years, I’ve posted images of my vacation, family and friend events on my own website. But neither the webhost or the software I used is optimized for images. So things got pretty slow. Again, after hours of research and trial installation of software, I settled on a “cloud” service to host my images. And of course there is a whole new, frustrating learning curve. The results will be much better. My images are presented better, backed up on local drives, in the cloud and also the selected images are stored on a remote server for viewing.

Dog Food:

There is a business saying that “We eat our own dog food.” In short, that means a company uses it’s own products internally. Well, as an executive coach and business consultant, I am frequently working to get leaders who are too comfortable to make changes. It’s appropriate that I eat my own dog food. It also helps me understand just how difficult it is to effect meaningful change. In our small company, making changes from doing our best to go paperless, to changing financial institutions, to employing new processes and software is challenging enough. In the larger companies I work with, 10’s to 100’s of employees are disrupted with even the most incremental changes.

Continuous Improvement:

It seems to me that the best way to stay ahead of the competition is to be ever vigilant for new and improved ways of doing things. My way of staying vigilant is to always question why I (we) are doing things the way we are. Can we improve our process? What are customers, vendors and competitors doing around a particular process? Is there a way for us to improve on so-called best practices? Why shouldn’t we create a better best practice?

I love change. I’m almost always an early adopter. Changes are frustrating of course. And so it’s good that I experience the frustration of change myself. It helps me understand what others are going through when change is forced upon them.

The difficulty is, if we don’t continuously improve (by definition that means change), we will be left behind. If we wait, we will have to go through massive change to catch up to the market and competitors. So what are you doing in your organization to foster a culture of continuous change? Can you accelerate change processes? Do you have a way to mitigate the inevitable frustration that accompanies change?