image by jnarin, flickr artist

you’ve seen people hunt and peck when they’re typing; those guys that use only two fingers and have no understanding of how to navigate around a qwerty keyboard. it’s incredibly inefficient, and sometimes pathetic.

sometimes it’s so bad that you actually remove the keyboard from a person’s control and type in whatever needs to be said yourself because it’s just faster than the alternative. well if you wouldn’t put up with someone’s typing that way, why would you put up with hunting and pecking in your business processes?

a lot of our tools now-a-days have become really powerful. you don’t have to wait long — if at all — to see results in your work. your elaborate spreadsheets update in real time, email and instant messaging dominate our daily communications, and hundreds and even thousands of lines of code compile in mere seconds. it’s easy to let this ‘instant-on’ functionality dictate how we approach our problems.

spreadsheet not working? tweak this formula. code not compiling? make a quick edit and try again. end users having problems with the system? run another backend data load.

what we really need to be doing, however, is assessing the problem at the core of whatever it is we’re talking about. let’s go back to basics. what is it that your spreadsheet really needs to be doing? what are all the inputs for your formulas? what’s the progression from one calculation to the other? write these things down. make a flowchart, baby! if you fully understand what you need to get done, you’ll have an easier time getting there.

it won’t give you an instant answer, but chances are you’ll save yourself a lot of aggravation (and multiple rounds of work and rework) in the long run. hunting and pecking is for rookies; it’s time to graduate to a more efficient approach.