THE true value of knowledge is in its application to make a big impact. It seems like the more valuable the knowledge, the simpler the change to be made, and the greater the impact.
I was reminded of this relationship after observing the detailed handwritten pay-sheet that a building contractor was using to get the precise amounts to pay his workers. At a glance, it was clear to me that a simple spreadsheet would be faster and could save him an hour’s effort each time.
Thirty minutes later, I produced a spreadsheet that quickly calculated the pay amount, including the breakdown by denomination. When he received the spreadsheet, he could scarcely believe that a computer could do all of that work so quickly. As an experienced ICT professional and someone accustomed to automation and speed improvements, I had underestimated the impact of this work. It was nothing short of liberating.
After a similar experience this week, I had to take stock. A few days ago, I was speaking to a friend who was struggling with the pace of his Ph.D research into robotics and animal behaviour. During our discussion, I suggested a small change to his code that would help avoid a bug in his programme. Although he initially doubted my advice because his robot needed to be simple, he eventually agreed to implement that change after considering the impact on his work.
In both cases, a simple idea or innovation was all it took to make a big impact. When you think of progress and innovation, do you consider that a small step or a tiny change may have a huge benefit? Look around your immediate environment and ask whether there are changes to be made. You might even surprise yourself.
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(About the author: Dr. Lyndell St. Ville is an ICT Consultant offering expertise in data management, systems design and analysis.)