I caught up with Buzz last week face-to-face. We were both in Cambridge, MA and managed to find time for some pizza at Bertucci’s followed by ice cream at Herrells. If you live in Cambridge, you likely know of Herrells. Those of you who don’t, should make the pilgrimage if quality ice cream is important to you.
Buzz chided me on my less than prolific blogging recently. The usual excuses apply; travel, new client projects, family sporting events when I am in town, etc., etc. But he’s right. I haven’t been making as much time for this practice as I should. Some of the issue is managing and rethinking the split between public and private blogging. I originally began using these tools as a backup brain and as an amplifier on my ability to stay informed about topics that matter to me. I still spend substantial time tracking topics using RSS and my aggregator, but much of that doesn’t find its way into McGee’s Musings nor should it.
I also use my local blog as the place where I draft and work out various ideas for my client projects and other efforts. Again, that is material that is frequently not ready for wide dissemination.
While I find these tools immensely important to my long term productivity as a knowledge worker, I still find it a difficult concept to sell. I don’t think we really give tools the importance they deserve if we are knowledge workers. If you’re reading this, most likely you’ve made this conceptual leap already. But how often do we encounter conversations like the one Rex Hammock reported last week on a question by Ellis Booker, “ What were you trying to achieve with your blog in the first place?”
I agree with Rex. I didn’t start this with a well-developed business case or a clear plan. The out-of-pocket costs to play with these new technologies are close to zero. The time costs can be a different question, but the potential payoffs are what is absolutely critical. And none of it fits into a business case any better than trying to calculate the future value of a newborn baby. You’ve got to live it to create whatever value is going to be found.
Here’s my analogy. We’re about where Frederick Taylor was when he started trying to figure out how to make manual, repetitive work more productive. Figuring that out was science at its most fundamental; observe, experiment, learn, repeat. The sooner you start, the faster you learn. If you continue the process, the most that anyone following you can do is to catch up to where you are now. Waiting for the answer is a sucker’s bet. It’s the person doing the practicing that gets better, not the spectator in the stands. So, Buzz, you’re right.