March 22, 2021

The New Tool Trap

Don’t change tools to fix a problem. Change tools because you need to reset your workflow, or you want to optimize some process — but never bet that changing the tool will fix what’s wrong. In most cases, problems have nothing to do with the tool. Sure, a new tool or service can help you reduce friction or better distribute it. But any problem you are blaming on your tool is more likely related to workflows, poorly defined tasks, or… you.

As someone who loves tools, utilities, apps, software, services, alphas, betas, etc, I have zero moral authority to suggest not to try any new tool. But be aware not only of what you’re really changing but also why.

Let me put it this way: if you’re fat, changing your shirt can help you feel better or start a new habit. But it won’t magically make you lose weight. The tool comes along for the journey, but it has little to do with the destination.

Also, remember there’s a cost when changing your workflow, and if it’s higher than the benefits of the switch, then you’re going to end up in a worse spot.

Finally, be careful with how specialized your new tool is, or the level of abstraction from real data it removes you to. Unless you want to be easily replaced by AI or machine learning, then your job and workflow should be continuously changing. Anything close to a perfect system means that you –at the top of it — are yet another tool that can be to be optimized.

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