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How technology can help you lead

Recently, I took an IT (information technology) course at Parkland College, and though I obtained a certification, I in no way consider myself an expert on the topic. It was way outside of my wheelhouse, but it was good to be challenged. I did discover that there are many concepts in the world of technology that are useful in everyday business.

One example is what’s referred to as technical debt. Maybe you’re familiar with this term already, but I’d never heard it used prior to my exposure to technology. The terminology is used to describe a backlog of help desk support tickets that can occur at various times of the year, such as when people take vacation over the holidays, leaving tickets to go uncompleted. When the tickets aren’t being filled, it creates a bankruptcy, similar to a financial debt situation. This can be problematic obviously because of the impact to business when their technology isn’t working properly, due to a backlog of help desk tickets. This is a lesson we can all learn from.

Has your team ever experienced an unexpected loss of a team member and not been prepared, or maybe your company suffers from high turnover, or has gone through another type of transition? The end result of any of these scenarios is often a form of departmental debt that is paid by those left remaining on the team. They pay the remaining balance of the team’s debt. It can last from weeks to months even. It might not show up in the form of help desk tickets, but instead there is a backlog of work that other team members have to do to pick up the slack from the loss the team has incurred. Maybe you’ve experienced this before, but haven’t been able to articulate it. Now you can name it -- debt. Sometimes putting a name to a problem is the first step to finding a solution. I find this helpful because the initial temptation would be to place blame. Instead, you can work toward resolving the debt and what plans you’re going to put in place toward preventing future debt, just as you would to protect the finances in your business.

Another concept that stood out to me from the IT world is troubleshooting. Learning how to fix your own device is, in and of itself empowering because you’re learning how to solve your own technology problems. At a distance, it looks intimidating, but in the class I learned that IT problems are solved through troubleshooting. In many cases there is a standard list of potential solutions an IT support professional will ask you for any variety of problems. They may not know what the exact problem is, but through asking you a series of common solutions, they may discover the problem. A lot of it is actually trial and error, learning and problem-solving.

Again, this could be helpful in many areas of our lives and business. If you find yourself facing a difficult situation at work, instead of immediately jumping into worry, instead try troubleshooting and begin to look for a solution. This immediately takes you out of a victim mindset and puts you into a problem-solving frame of mind. Technology helps us to look at business from other perspectives, predict outcomes, solve problems and lead better teams.