Shift: A Thought Towards Tools

The other day on Twitter, I mentioned that I’m in need of a shift. Well, not in need as much as I’ve made a few personal decisions that means that I need to shift how I go about much of life. Its probably best stated this way (was said on Twitter/LinkedIn):

…my motivations have to do with wanting to shift in my focuses and activities as a person who identifies and is partially able to work towards solutions where communications and tools efficiencies break down to a person who is better able to design and implement the solution, and trends-spot to better enable companies to adjust to future disruptions…

The decisions will (publicly) bloom later, but there are things that I need to look at doing now which move me more into that statement. Part of the items that need to shift for me is how I address plugging into other environments for productivity. I’ve addressed this in the past some, but I think I’ll need to shift forward a bit here.

The Previous Shift
With the last company that I worked for, I was the usual consultant with a company issued laptop, office suite, email account, and Intranet expectations. As I worked there, that "usual" worker environment shifted a bit – in part because I had a very weakly speced laptop and was asked at times to do more than what that device could handle.

Then, I shifted to an iteration of the BYOD (bring your own device) policy: I used my Nokia N800 Internet Tablet as the primary computing device, handwritten notes (Xournal) uploaded to the respective area(s) of SharePoint so that co-workers could share/collaborate on things. Where possible, I diminished the use of Outlook, and stuck to the SMTP mail implementation on that device. This fell down when it came to setting and accepting meeting requests, so I kept the Outlook Web Access bookmark handy for those moments. I lost dependence on the physical location for defining work, and drew energy from meetings conducted in settings such as coffeeshops.

That shift evolved to how I work now (primarly MMM). Much of what I do is conducted on an iPad and Nokia N8 (the latter serving as the calendar, contacts, communications station; the former email, coding, analysis, and annotations). I work out of various mobile-oriented settings, and leverage a series of online services to collaborate over documents, share resources, and build repore with co-laborers across fields. There’s not much wrong with this, but it does stretch entreprenural parts of me to moments that I’d not considered before.

Working this way is good. Until you realize that it is also transitional to something else.

(Somewhat) Describing the Next Shift
A Twitter thread provoked me to think about this idea of a "next shift." The conversation that I was looking in on talked about a text editor for writing software applications. I realized immediately after I entered my 2 cents that a further shift by me is needed. Not just displacing the "space" that is work, but also displaying the "tools and structures."

I responded in that thread towards text editors that I used to use, but haven’t in years because I no longer use those computer platforms. I haven’t "used" MS Office in almost a year – unless compelled for a specific iteration of PowerPoint for a client. I’ve opined (too) much about owning both the server and the data streams coming from it about me – while also taking more advantage of solutions like Evernote and Dropbox which are well done and suitable until I learn how to code something more fitting to my style of work.

Where it seems that companies (and their following media) are pushing folks towards integrated tools and ways of working that mesh best for them, the shift for me that I’m seeing that I’ve been doing and have to push more towards looks like taking the lessons learned, applying new lessons, and building something better that fits better…

…this shift. Building the solution instead of just using what’s there. That’s how I’ve got to move. I didn’t see it as clearly. But, I do now. And the steps that I take from here to learn methods, not simply preferred tools, will go a long way towards enabling that shift forward to happen.