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Are your practices outdated?

I don’t mean the skills you possess and perform. Most professions require, expect and train you for competencies specifically relating to your role. It’d be a poor employer who didn’t, surely?

In this context, I am asking whether the ‘soft skills’ surrounding your professional productivity are up to scratch, and whether or not you’re still utilising pre-digitalisation thinking in your processes and procedures.

I’ve just left the police service, and that has been wholly digitalised. You’d think, as you watch NCIS press the “evidence button” that identifies, in one click, which suspect car has a specific tyre tread bought in that shop with that credit card by a person with that driving licence (doesn’t and a can’t happen, btw), that police forces would be completely at ease with IT.

Nope. And I wonder if this is reflected in other organisations, too.

First of all, and I admit I can only speak for the organisations I worked for, people are trained in THAT programme but never in ‘how computers work’. For proof, next time you’re arrested, watch the custody sergeant hunt and peck with the mouse instead of tabbing from field to field. No-one has told her how to use ‘computers’, just how to use ‘the custody programme’.

Next, the counter to IT training is the associated inability to think for themselves once digi-trained. If it isn’t ‘in the system’, no one knows that you can knock a neighbour’s door to see if someone still lives at 123, Acacia Avenue. No-body seems to be willing or able (or allowed) to leave ‘their’ patch to make eye-to-eye enquiries, relying on the uninformed to do it for them.

Finally, and this just blows my mind, they’ve stopped working for each other. In 1986, if I wanted a statement done in Essex (200 miles away) I would telex (look it up) that force and they’d do it for me. Now, we send someone that 200 miles because Essex is busy. A working day and a half to take a one or two page statement, instead of (for us) little time at all and (for them) an hour.

Personally, my preferred option for ‘outside force enquiries’ was to conduct a telephone interview with the witness and then arrange an exchange of documents via email, which was never challenged in all the crown court trials where I used that method (which also crossed international boundaries but don’t tell anyone). Occasionally a visit was necessary, but not every time.

My point is that people get so bogged down in ‘doing it like this’ that we stop thinking ‘is there a better, more efficient AND effective way to get X done?’ Or, as suggested above, ‘How did we do this before IT got in the way?’

Look at how you do stuff – do you send people places to get things that could be electronically got? Do you send emails or texts and then wait to get urgent information, instead of making a telephone call and getting the answer right away? Do you email people in the next room instead of getting up off your ‘arris and talking to them. Yes, I had a boss who did that.

In other words, has IT stopped you using your head and your imagination?

If so – Houston, you have a problem.

I just had a funny thought about millennial combat pilots using texts in a dogfight…………………….