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Tools don’t make us competent

Years ago I worked at a company that published content. When we needed a new editor, we’d hire random people from the produce department at the grocery store next to our offices. We’d then teach them how to use Microsoft Word. After a few training sessions, they were able to immediately create high impact content that engaged the audience and drove revenue.

Okay, I lied in the above paragraph. I’m making a point. All too often organizational leadership confuses tools with advanced professional skills. They think that if we just brought the right tools in, the current employees will suddenly do their jobs better. They miss an immutable truth about how to succeed. The first goal must be hiring people with the right skills. We then need to define the best process to get the work completed. The last step in the process is to provide tools that support the processes and complement the skills of the team.

People, process, then tools. No changes can take place without following this linear path. The short term pain of the changes will be much less severe than the failure of trying to teach unskilled people how to use a tool they see no value in using.

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