One of the most annoying things about my line of work is having to politely answer over and over again questions that amount to: “How can I cheat the system?”
Seriously. Let’s start with the easy stuff. If we’re talking about digital marketing (e.g. “How can I quickly/easily/cheaply get on the first page of Google?”) you have to stop and think what it is that you’re talking about. You’re talking about beating at their own game a multi-national, industry-leading superpower that hires the best talent in the world. I’m not saying it’s impossible, but if I told you I’m feeling pretty good about beating the Russian hockey team by myself on the next Winter Olympics, would you jump in as a sponsor?
And what does asking this question say about character? For one thing, why would I want to help someone cheat their way to where I have worked so hard to get to? Why would I want to help a cheater, for that matter?
I’m also not talking about the kind of incremental improvements in productivity, profitability, and even creativity that careful attention to processes can provide. I myself have been involved in the kind of projects and initiatives that some dismissed as a O.C.D.-fueled obsessions. Back when I was involved in CNC-manufacturing for a sign shop, seeing room for improvements I set out to outline the exact procedures to maximize our workflow. I created a single, easy to follow instructions document, as well as templates for labels used on materials in the queue, which included information like the exact file, tools, and settings to be used on a specific sheet of material. When we increased productivity four-fold (8hrs per one-and-a-half shift, up from 2hrs per 8hr shift), no one though it was silly. But this wasn’t a shortcut, all I did was maximize productivity on matters that didn’t need re-invented every time.
I did it again in various design departments, producing templates for typical drawings, and making them so that they could be easily customized. And again in every business I’ve been involved with.
But that kind of effort is not what we like. We like the diet pill, not exercise and a healthy diet. We like a bit of software we can click on for a solution, instead of slowing down to think and find the best solutions for a given problem. I’d venture say even the guy that defaults to cheating knows that is but a meaningless shortcut. That the value is short-term, and unsustainable.
There are no shortcuts to any place worth going”
– Beverly Sills, American operatic soprano
It takes maturity, and discipline, not to take the shortcut.
Image made with Recite