Ever since some smart chap, or chappess, came up with the idea of a check list and impressed the boss the world has been beset with a search for bigger, better tools to replace what was essentially a very good idea.
Taken to the it’s illogical conclusion this search can lead even the most sensible people to a point where the productivity tools themselves are a very viable alternative to work.
If your team is not distributed, your tools don’t need to be either.
Gantt charts, mind maps, flow charts, to do lists, issues registers and all manners of witchcraft will not be of much use if you’re woefully disorganised. Conversely if you’re a maniacally organised person you will probably just gain ulcers rather than time when you install ‘Project widget 2.0’ on your PC.
One of the big problems with a lot of smoke and mirror systems is that everyone in the market place is clamouring to make the next big thing when what is really needed is a good clipboard and check list.
If you can describe your entire project on one hand-written piece of paper and all the stakeholders live in the same town you need a photocopier and regular communication, not Microsoft Project.
If you managed to write about your plan for world domination on one bit of paper and no-one understands what the project is about you have problems that are nothing to do with web based collaboration.
If your team is not distributed, your tools don’t need to be either. The whiteboard industry is still alive and well, and a stack of post-it notes on the office wall will still work when your broadband is down.
So before you run out and attach your hopes for better efficiency to the latest shiny productivity tool, apply some old fashioned common sense. That is of course unless you’re looking for an alternative to work, in which case the search starts here….