Simon Terry

Home » Uncategorized » Don’t confuse the tool with the result

Don’t confuse the tool with the result

We all use tools each day. Don’t let the tools takeover.

Many years ago I was lucky enough to experience on a sailing class on Sydney harbour. A spectacular location for sailing and we were all very excited by the opportunity to spend an afternoon on the water. Some of the men in the group were particularly excited that the yacht had grinders. Grinders winch the sheets that set the sails like on the yachts we had seen in the America’s Cup and Sydney to Hobart ocean races.

Our veteran instructor had seen that enthusiasm for grinders before. He had one simple piece of advice before we started. ‘Always remember’, he said placing a hand on the grinder ‘this is the tool.’ he then pointed to the great expanse of sail fluttering in the breeze and said ‘That is your result’. Suffice to say he had to gesture and shout ‘tool’ and ‘result’ more times that day before everyone got the message that the object was not to grind furiously. The purpose was to set the sharpest sail for best performance in the wind.

I have seen that experience many times. People can lose sight of their purpose and what generates performance. When that happens, they often furiously work their tools for their own sake. The role of leaders is to shift the focus from working on tools immediately at hand to the point of work.

Let me give you some examples of tools that commonly go awry:

– The power of a brand is to generate incremental sales and returns. It is not to have the best compliance with brand guidelines. Guidelines are the tool.
– The power of customer relationship management is to enhance the value of conversations with customers. It is not to have a CRM that has every feature and tracks every unit of data.
– The power of enterprise collaboration is to allow a community to achieve some valuable purpose. It is not to have the best solution with all the features or to prevent the community from acting in an unapproved way.
– The power of visual communication is to convey ideas more easily & effectively It is not to have the coolest or most complicated PowerPoint or infographic.
– The power of a meeting is to get buy-in to a collective decision when required. It is not to produce the best or longest stack of minutes.

Next time you see someone who is confusing the tool and the result take the lead. Like the yachtsman, give them a steer in a better direction.


4 Comments

  1. […] there is a difference between the tool and the result.  Keep your eyes & efforts on the outcomes that […]

  2. […] In our specialist tribes it can become easy for the goals of our work to shift. We define success in terms of more or better of what we do.  However, that is rarely the goal that matters to the organisation or those we work to benefit. We need to be clear on the difference between the tool and the result.  […]

  3. […] of how we specifically achieve goals. The dangers of traditional planning is that we often end up measuring the plan and not success. Make sure your metrics are focused on measuring what you actually want to […]

  4. […] on how value gets created: Plans take over from results when we confuse the tool and the result. Helping everyone in the organisation to understand the purpose and how value gets created gives […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow Simon Terry on WordPress.com

Follow me on Twitter

%d bloggers like this: