You are reading this on a laptop, a smartphone and if you are super fancy maybe even via VR goggles (although I doubt it as I can’t imagine many people actually do that!). You have a digital tv subscription, your door lock could be digital, you use cashless payments and maybe are even tempted with the new cellular Apple Watch. In business, we use video conferences and share screens and send emails.
We live in a digital world.
And yet, for some things the analogue – or at least non-digital – is still best; it is well known that face to face meetings are the best way to collaborate with each other. Yet sometimes it can be difficult to marry the two – digital and analogue together. But after a recent trip to London for a workshop – I came away with a renewed appreciation of how analogue techniques can be blended in a digital world.
To set the scene, the workshop had the purpose to review a number of investment opportunities, (around 80) each had a number of cost options and a detailed list of activities that each investment required. As a group we had to identify which ones would be prioritized, which ones needed more work and which ones should be postponed for the future. This type of collaboration has no ‘right answers’ only points of view.
Whilst the investments details were on PowerPoint if we had been flicking between multiple presentations we would never have been able to keep track. The simple solution? Print a 1-line summary of each option, and it’s cost onto a small playing card size printout. Cut this out and use these to help organize a priority list.
Additional notes were made by hand on whiteboards, allowing us to wipe out and include additional requests.
Most importantly of all, the people who were tasked with making the decisions were all in the room. Every stakeholder could pick up, move and re-order the print outs as a group – ensuring that everyone had the buy in and the visibility of the decisions.
This seemed a good combination of digital and analogue. The paper and boards to organize our thoughts and rationale, the digital to provide more detail on the specifics when necessary.
Another good marriage of analogue and digital I have come across is a fantastic new gadget, the Moleskin livescribe notepad and pen, I got as a present. This allows me to still create hand written notes and scribbles which is my default, but the pen simultaneously records them, allowing me to view them on your smartphone or edit on your computer. Genius. It’s a digital upgrade to my analogue preference.
What both of these experiences have taught me is we shouldn’t accept inferior substitutes for the simple brilliance of face to face meetings, pen, paper and printouts. But exciting new technology – like my Moleskin pen – and embracing dual working – means we’re increasingly able to bring the benefits of our analogue world into the digital.