Don’t get it twisted: Software is useful. Profoundly useful.
Just this morning I’ve used it to manage my schedule, track progress on my work, communicate with a client and listen to a Shakey Graves album. I’m using it to write this very article as we speak! And people down the hall are using it for everything from accounting software to development to marketing and beyond.
There are more software types than any one person could ever dream of using in a lifetime. There’s even such a thing as forestry software. Did you know that? I bet you didn’t know that.
But — at the risk of sounding crazy — there is more to life than software. And when it comes to your business, the latest platform will not magically heal your every headache. You cannot expect a Band-Aid to cure heart disease, or a new motor to resolve a fight on a boat. (Okay, enough analogies for now. You get the point.)
There are likely thousands of misguided managers out there who put too much weight on technology, and who point fingers at their products when the team falters. Plenty of an organization’s goals benefit immensely from quality software, and it is often the bridge between meetings and milestones. Many hurdles and hiccups, though, require a human element that no artificial intelligence innovation can replicate … well, not yet, anyway.
Software can solve, or at the very least address, countless common business problems. But there are problems that it can’t solve. And tackling these particular issues can actually be significant moments of growth — strengthening the foundation and reinforcing the value of quality people and ideas.
Below are some examples of quandaries that your company may encounter which are impervious to shiny tech tools, along with alternative suggestions for solving them.
Capitalism can be a real bully and will often beat up a young company just for having a less-than-ideal name. In recent news, a vending machine startup called “Bodega” was harshly criticized for stealing its name from the ubiquitous New York City corner stores. The overriding opinion on social media was that it was also trying to steal their customers. Whether the company was destined for success under a different moniker, we may never know. But such a critical misstep out of the gate may have doomed its public perception, like a giant scarlet letter among Puritans.
A brand name that is potentially offensive, too similar to another, hard to pronounce or just plain boring can be a death sentence before a startup even has a chance to sell something. Some companies have operated for decades with a bad name, and stubborn pride or obliviousness can get in the way of true potential. Does the name Hoobastank ring a bell? Don’t be Hoobastank.
Consult a branding agency to size up the strength of your name before going too hard in your promotion efforts. Many of these firms can also assist in the naming process itself, and together you can stitch a winning flag to wave proudly as you set out to conquer the globe.
So you’ve got a perfect name. But what do you actually do? Can you sum it up in a single sentence? Can your employees even really describe it?
It’s a question you need to ask yourself. And don’t expect Siri or Alexa to throw you a bone on this one.
When scaling the services mountain this past year — getting acquainted with thousands of B2B services providers to feature on our site — I was stunned by the number of companies with a gross word salad on their homepage, immediately destroying my appetite. It’s hard to categorize a company when their modus operandi is to confuse and over-complicate, or conversely be as vague as possible. If you can’t explain your purpose to buyers, Lord knows you can’t explain it to employees. And if your team doesn’t know what it’s doing, there’s a chance you will never actually get it done.
Enlisting the services of management consultants and marketing strategists is a smart play if you get the sense your vision isn’t getting through to others. It’s possible your communication needs refining. In a number of cases, the vision itself needs correcting. And in either case, no software patch or plugin will quite do the trick.
G2 Crowd has made strides in recent months to discuss diversity, but the issues are far too complicated for one company to solve. And although talent management software can give you a decent view of your team’s demographic breakdown, it’s on the managers and hiring department to push for progress and fair representation. Working with an HR consulting firm and the right staffing agency may be a step in the right direction. There are supremely qualified candidates from all walks of life, and it’s no coincidence that the most successful companies out there are the ones giving them a chance.
Morale Struggles and Inter-Office Tension
Let’s assume you’ve hired an incredible team, provided an enjoyable work environment and built out well-defined roles in which your employees can succeed. Let’s also assume you have a quality product or service! (Four very fundamental things that can’t be accomplished using only software, mind you.)
Even with all these things in place, most companies are destined to find emotional bumps in the road. Conflicts and issues with morale can arise at any given time, and can often be traced back to familiar, specific causes. These can include dips in revenue, layoffs or significant growth, work culture concerns, holes in communication, imbalanced workloads and clashes of personality. Regardless of the source, these personal predicaments can contaminate your operation the moment they develop. They can also threaten the well-being of employees; mentally, emotionally and even physically in extreme cases.
You can scour the net for a “Peacemaker Platform” or “Compassion Bot,” but we’re not quite there yet. This means you’ll have to have some good, old-fashioned conversations with your employees to let them voice their concerns and for you to try and ease them. Listening to the honest feedback of your team may inspire some major shifts in how your business operates and a renewed approach to how you treat your employees. Management and HR consulting firms can assist with conflict resolution tactics and tips to boost morale. A little positive reinforcement never hurts, either — well-timed rewards and incentives for your employees can go a long way.
Eventually, yes — you will need some software. And software cannot help you choose other software. That’s like food that tells you where to eat next. Not a thing.
If you need help, start with a technology research service like G2 Crowd, or reach out to an IT solution consultant. You may decide to ask for the trusted advice of peers in your industry and connections from your network, or simply read a zillion articles and full-length reviews from tech websites. You could also throw a dart at a wall filled with names of products and hope for the best. It wouldn’t be surprising if some companies did all of the above. It’s not always an easy decision, but the decision-making process can be a wonderful test of your team’s abilities, as well as something to get excited about.
After all: Even though software can’t do everything, it is pretty neat!