When I was a homeowner, one of the joys of my backyard pond and waterfall was the soothing sound of the water and the beauty of blooming water lilies and swimming fish. The downside was the ongoing maintenance to keep it clean and free of problems including green algae. After the last bloom of string algae in my pond, I bought a bottle of algae blocker, a product I hadn’t used before, that was promoted as a way to “reduce the appearance of algae.” After reading the directions, I added the recommended dosage of the blue fluid to my pond in hopes of quickly removing the algae. Big mistake! Suddenly my pond water was the color of a blue Slurpee! Once it was too late, I discovered that this solution wasn’t designed to remove the algae–it just covered it up with a swimming pool blue color so you couldn’t see the algae as clearly. Ugh! It took lots of water, filters, effort, and time to dilute the blue color and restore the look of my pond. And still, I had to buy another product that actually solved the original problem.
I was reminded of my Blue Slurpee Pond during a recent customized Microsoft Excel training class when we uncovered that several of the team members had created a number of complicated, cumbersome, and faulty Excel workbooks trying to solve some key business issues. In their efforts to find a solution, they used the knowledge and tools they had, such as my bottle of algae blocker, to build the best solution they knew how to create. Unfortunately, many Excel formulas weren’t working correctly, formatting was inconsistent, links were broken, and people were frustrated. The end result wasted hundreds of working hours and just covered up the problems without providing the needed solutions. The solution we created together included 1) a focused analysis of the data and key results the team needed, and 2) a customized software training and consulting plan to build the skills and competency to create the right solutions. In this case, we built a series of linked Excel workbooks each team member could use to achieve the right solutions they needed. They now have an ongoing solution, not just something that looks like it fixes the problem.
We don’t know what we don’t know so we do our best by grabbing onto what looks like the right answer.
- How many hours do you waste trying to fix a Word document so it has the right formatting?
- How many Google searches have you tried to track down an Excel answer even though you’re not even sure what to search for?
- How much time are you spending wading through hundreds of email messages in hopes of not missing important communications?
- How often do you fight with a PowerPoint presentation to create nice looking slides from an ugly slide deck?
What software problems are you covering up using the only ways you know rather than the best solutions? Let’s work together to create solutions for your software problems. Our options are wide-ranging including on-site training classes and seminars as well as remote virtual training and consulting. How can I help with your Microsoft Office and Adobe Acrobat software problems? Let’s have a conversation! Stop covering up the problems and uncover the right solutions!
By Dawn Bjork, MCT, MOSM, CVP, The Software Pro®
Microsoft Certified Trainer, Productivity Speaker, Certified Virtual Presenter