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Enjoy the Smash Hit Broadway Musical of Peter Pan on DVD! ------------------------------------------------------------ Media Perspectives - Wednesday, November 10, 2010 Inertia By Jaffer Ali "The first rule of any technology used in a business is that automation applied to an efficient operation will magnify the efficiency. The second is that automation applied to an inefficient operation will magnify the inefficiency." ? Bill Gates I began writing about business back when I still had hair on my head. That, my friends, was a long time ago. I wish I had more answers than questions and indeed, the more I write, the less I seem to know. But anyone who's been in business for more than a few years will notice that some- thing dramatic has happened... Everywhere we turn, we encounter the specter of inertia. I looked up the word in a thesaurus and here are some of the words used to it: inactivity, apathy, lethargy, inaction, torpor. There were many more such synonyms, but you get the idea. Our business environment is characterized by inertia on so many levels. What are the reasons, and why are they so intertwined? For openers, we have developed what I have termed an "intermediary economy". With so few folks actually producing "stuff", there are at least ten intermediaries for each real producer in our economy. While the Internet promised "disintermediation", the act of eliminating intermediaries, a whole slew of them ? consultants, agencies and even the technologies themselves ? still remain and still propagate as unchecked as ever. What do I mean about technology acting as an intermediary? I mean that our tools often stand between those wishing to do business with each other. Start with phone systems that result in maybe one in ten calls actually being answered by a live person. The rest gets digitized and filed away for later action; action that often never materializes. Our email stands as an intermediary technology. This digital communication tool is now routinely either ignored intentionally or confused with SPAM. We have organizational tools designed to help us with the growing glut of information. Our "knowledge stream" is increasingly governed and managed by digital tools. Customer service has been "automated" with technological solutions that have replaced people, resulting in what should more appropriately be called customer disservice. Try getting in touch with someone at Twitter or Facebook. These "social media" technological organizations are decidedly anti-social as they are insulated ? more like hermetically sealed ? from the great unwashed. As Bill Gates said, we have applied technological solutions to inefficient processes and magnified our inefficiencies. By arming every intermediary layer of the economy with its own technological tools we produce exponential friction that stops us in our tracks. The resulting inertia creates an atmosphere where the decision making process comes to a crawl. I have read a slew of business books that tout how FAST things change. This is true. But change happens more and more through collapse and failure than through deliberate decision. Decision-making processes that have to fight their way through bureaucratic or intermediary layers now take longer and longer to unfold, often taking so long that other changes in the environment render them impotent and irrelevant en route. The question remains as to why we pursue such an inert business philosophy. One culprit is fear. We have a culture of fear. We fear terrorism. We fear sending our kids to the playground. We fear making decisions because we're afraid of being wrong. Much better to simply blame it on the other guy, and with so many intermediaries clogging the pipes there is plenty of blame to go around. In the movie Dune, the Bene Gesserit cult knew that "fear is the mind killer." Fear paralyzes. Of course, intermediaries are by and large ruled by fear. They can't afford to be wrong and thus busy themselves creating more inertia that further distances them from any real accountability for their role in the process. Another culprit contributing to this inertia is the over- whelming ubiquity of Attention Deficit Disorder or ADD. We have so much information coming at us that we have developed what the Zen masters call "monkey mind". This is where our minds jump from one idea to the next as monkeys jumping from tree to tree. With such a seeming inability to focus or concentrate on anything until the next bit of information further clouds our consciousness, is it any wonder that decisions get tangled in their own inertia-laden feet? Fast paced change coupled with inertia is a thorny problem to solve. The two seem incompatible until we understand that they in fact feed ? and feed upon ? each other. ------------------------------------------------------------ Jaffer is the CEO of Vidsense and actually answers his own phone when in the office! Even more amazing is that he answers emails that are personalized. To email him, send to or call him at 708-478-4500 ext. 105. ------------------------------------------------------------ YOUR VIDEO SNACK BAR Top Viewed Videos... 1. All the Single Babies 2. Celebrities: Before and After Make-Up 3. Amos Nยด Andy - In the IRS Office 4. The D-Day Invasion 5. The Spanish Civil War 6. The Human Slinky ------------------------------------------------------------ Questions? Comments? Email me at: quote (at) ------------------------------------------------------------ Follow Your Favorite GopherCentral Publications on Twitter: More Coming Soon! ------------------------------------------------------------

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