If technology is the hare, then employees are the tortoise, reads one of the rules in ‘10 Clowns Don’t Make a Circus,’ by Steven Schragis and Rick Frishman (www.vivagroupindia.com). “Regardless of any new technology that you might be considering, keep in mind that the most important part of a successful business is a persuaded and prepared employee,” the authors add. They, therefore, call for ‘a little sensitivity and hand-holding’ to make the transition easier and more effective.

“It’s not just a question of learning which buttons to push – it’s being aware of which ‘people buttons’ not to push. Because we are all creatures of habit, there will always be resistance to new technologies, procedures, and processes – and even some fear and resentment.”

One simple advice on minimising the fear factor is that you can break up training into more digestible chunks, rather than plod through the typical and daunting marathon workshops. Allow for practice, follow-up sessions, and individual instruction when needed, the authors urge. “Accept the fact that there’s a learning curve between being introduced to a new technology and becoming completely proficient… Don’t be in a hurry to get a new system up and running ASAP.”

Another ‘rule’ in the book says, ‘Don’t become a slave to your email.’ That is, don’t let your inbox run your day. “As tempting as it may be to obsessively check your email, your cyberspace inbox is not your to-do list,” the authors instruct.

“From a time-management and productivity perspective, you’re better off setting aside a block of time for email – then give yourself long uninterrupted stretches to get regular work done.” A ready takeaway in this regard is to respond immediately to an email if it is going to take less than two minutes.

Know your technology, urges ‘Rule 72.’ You don’t need to adopt every new business gadget that comes down the pike, but you should be aware of them, clarify the authors. “Knowledge is power – and knowledge of what’s new and could potentially improve your company’s productivity and efficiency can be powerfully profitable… There’s a window of opportunity between the early adopters of a new technology and when the rest of the world jumps on the bandwagon – and that window could give you significant boost over your competition.”

The ‘action plan’ for this is to stay in touch with what’s ahead of the curve by asking tech-savvy friends, reading business news, and scouting the exhibit booths at trade shows. The goal, as Schragis and Frishman observe, is not to become the tech support guy or official office geek, but simply to become a more well-informed consumer – if and when you do decide to obtain the new device.

Fun read.

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‘Barcode’ for business reporting

The movement towards XBRL (eXtensible Business Reporting Language) as a standard global framework to support effective production, consumption, and exchange of financial and business information is gaining acceptance throughout the world, says the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India in ‘XBRL – A primer’ (www.icai.org).

XBRL, for starters, is “an electronic language, a royalty-free open specification developed by XBRL International Inc. (www.xbrl.org), a not-for-profit consortium of 500 leading companies and agencies from around the world.” It is one of a family of XML (Extensible Mark-up Language) which is becoming a standard means of communicating information between businesses and on the Internet, informs the site.

ICAI likens XBRL to barcode, for business reporting. “Instead of treating financial information as a block of text, which is the case in a standard Internet page or a printed document, XBRL provides and identifying code or ‘tag’ for each individual item of data.”

Right material for learners.

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Tailpiece

“To reduce costs and increase productivity, we tweaked the electronics in the coffee-vending machine to let less sugar flow…”

“Uh…”

“Even as we made the PCs to run faster!

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