Lost Benefit Analysis - Next Action Associates

“That’s too expensive for us.”

We’d been talking about offering our services to her people, and the remark caught me a bit off-guard. She was the CEO of a decent sized business, who had just finished rhapsodizing about the benefits she’d been getting from using GTD® herself only a few minutes earlier. 

Adding to my surprise was the fact that we were sitting in the cafeteria of the tres moderne new building she’d had built with funds from the disposal of part of the company a few years before.

The cost of training her people – who work in that very same ‘spensive building – was a miniscule fraction of a percent of the price of the structure, but our costs still seemed high to her. Huh. Something didn’t add up.

The disparity in what the building had cost and the cost of our training – to help her people work better in it – prompted a reflection about various investments that a company can make in its future, and the difficulty of evaluating certain costs and comparing their investment value with other expenditure. 

As a non-exhaustive sample, here are some kinds of investments you could make:

Infrastructure – buildings, furniture and other equipment that help get the job done

Hardware – computers and phones, manufacturing lines, etc

Software – apps and program that run on the above

Wetware – the humans still necessary to coordinate all of the above

There will be more, depending on the nature of your business, but we don’t need a complete list here.

Part of the challenge of our work is that most people have no idea how wastefully they – or their employees – are currently working. To know that, they’d need a reference point of working efficiently and effectively, and they can’t generally get that until they have worked with us. For most people, the way they work is the way they work. Stress comes from outside, and their ability to change it seems low.

If they could experience what world-class productivity and prioritisation felt like on their team, and then went back to working in the way they had been prior to our training, they’d flip out. And that would be simply based on the discomfort of it, and before they did any analysis of the actual $£ cost of working in the old way compared to the new.

And still people hesitate to invest in their people anything like as much as they will in hardware and software.

Part of the challenge with investing in wetware is that – at least since the end of indentured servitude – it can walk out of the door at any time. But that is kind of the point of making the investment. In the world we work in, the competition for talent is so intense that years ago it earned the moniker ‘the war for talent’. Which prompted perhaps my favourite second language slip up of all time, when one of my Dutch clients claimed they were winning The War on Talent. Which is what some companies seem to be doing. If you are not training your people to be market-ready when the time comes for them to move on, why would they choose to slow-track their careers by coming to work for you?

Companies have no problem spending thousands per head on software upgrades but offer no training on using the software. How do I know? People come to our seminars – which are not software training – and claim it is the first time they’ve had any training at all on the use of the software they use most often. 

The same is true for us as individuals. We happily spend thousands a year on coffees, but grimace at the thought of investing hundreds in enabling ourselves to point all that caffeinated energy at our world more skillfully.

GTD aside, even if we simply stick with the domain of getting more done of the right things done with less stress, there are myriad ways to enable yourself – or your people – to use their tools more effectively:

Software training

Listening skills

Speaking persuasively

Using their body language more powerfully

Typing speed (yes, even that)

You don’t have to invest your money in GTD, but if you are not investing in upgrading your wetware every year, how on earth is it supposed to be able to maximize its use of the infrastructure, hardware and software – some of which are being upgraded on a weekly basis?

In light of all that, one question: when’s your next wetware update scheduled?

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