It is easy to be seduced by a tool that will solve your most pressing problems. We convince ourselves that weak sales, shrinking margins, inability to keep up with the competition, and more, can be solved with this software program or that new sales force management tool. “If I have that tool,” the CEO thinks, “I’ll have what I need to improve and gain an advantage.”
Except that such an all-powerful tool doesn’t exist. While you do need to evolve with technology, it is equally important to recognize that a tool is not a solution. Solutions come from people, and the most impressive, sophisticated, feature-rich tool is useless in the hands of someone who won’t leverage it. If I give a monkey a hammer, he’ll destroy my house. If I give a hammer to a master carpenter, he’ll build me a beautiful new home. The tool hasn’t changed, only the hands we put it in.
The main problem with tool seduction is that it means executives or managers are looking outside their organization for answers, rather than to their people. They are abdicating their own role in the problems that have developed, and potentially tolerating incompetence from their team. It is like people who are trying to lose weight, and instead of exercising or eating better, look for that miracle cure in a pill that will magically transform them.
True Solutions Take Work
The truth is, the right tools can help with all of this, but they don’t take the place of solid leadership. SharePoint, for instance, a web-based file-sharing program by Microsoft, offers a tremendous range of features. It allows users throughout an organization to access information, communicate, and manage data efficiently. It’s a tool. It is part of a solution. When leaders train their employees, who then share, edit documents, and publish content, the team can become more productive. But the program isn’t going to make that content any better! Only the workers can do that.
There’s an old saying, “A fool with a tool is still a fool.” You can get all the tools you want; if you don’t have the people to leverage them and make the right decisions about and with those tools, they are as useless as your 1980s Commodore. Too often, we focus on the tool and not the people who will be using them. When that happens, these “solutions” have relieved you of nothing in the end but some time and money.