Remember Inspector Gadget, with his gee-whiz fancy technology that always proved useless? Instead, his vastly underestimated niece, Penny, and savvy dog, Brain, came to the rescue time and again.
Sometimes I, too, feel like Inspector Gadget--confused, misguided, and far too dependent on the gadgets and technology that help run the modern organization.
Now, don't get me wrong; I'm no Luddite. After all, Blinds.com was the first, and is today the largest, online blinds retailer. But I've seen for myself how hard it can be to use technology efficiently--much less employ it at a higher, strategic level.
Here are the things I try to keep in mind to find balance among all the digital bells and whistles:
1. Stay cutting edge, but don't forget the human side.
I hit a turning point in my life when I realized that I'd be a more effective leader if I had a more compassionate and open approach to life (and business!). It was when I started trusting the people around me to make smart decisions and offer valuable advice that things really started rocking. No mobile app or online solution could replace the rich ingenuity that my employees have brought to our business. There's no cooler computer than the human brain.
2. Don't read the manual.
You can (and should) find the deeper value of technology as it relates to your organizational structure and business goals. But it means taking the time to get to know your people, your customers, and where the real opportunity lies to implement a technology that will thoughtfully serve them.
3. Ditch the helicopter hat and get ready to sweat.
Be smart enough to see when technology is not the solution. Sometimes we think it must take buying or building an automated technology solution, such as a tracking tool, when all you really need--at least initially--is a yellow pad and pen.
4. Find your own Penny and Brain.
Identify the people on your team who can keep you on the straight and narrow. Enlist their help in good times and in bad. (Hint: They're probably the ones who are brave enough to say, "The emperor has no clothes," and not jump on the latest app bandwagon without a compelling reason to do so.)
As a CEO with a personal Twitter account, app-ed out iPhone, and Web business to run, I'm all for creative business growth with technological assistance. Just be sure you use the gadgets for the tools they really are; they're not the final solution but a means to your ongoing success.