When you work with your hands, you don’t turn your mind off

I had the pleasure of taking some time away from work last week. Our Atlanta home has a front porch that needed some repairs, so I spent the week rebuilding it. I love working with wood and seeing the results.

But while I was working, my mind was busy. Often it was contemplating something about the job at hand…a new way to do something. I had to install a number of pickets on the handrail that surrounds the porch. Centering each one individually would have been very time consuming, so I designed and built a “jig” to help me align each one in a matter of seconds. This 5 minute investment paid off in saving an hour or more of work.

So you’re asking yourself, “What does this have to do with social business?”

In June, I was asked to do a one-hour live TV interview for Hyde Park, a news show in Prague. The questions during the show would come, not from the host, but from the viewing audience via social tools. The topic was around “creative thinking” but anything was fair game. (A link is provided to the recording, but be warned, it is in Czech)

Here is one of the interesting questions that came in through Facebook:

John King: What advice would you give the post-communist Czech society? As the use of human intellectual potential in a country where people for generations were taught that only strenuous physical work eventually is fair, and where success is considered a crime?

My response was validated in my work last week: “When you work with your hands, you don’t turn your mind off.”

I know many companies who are looking at how social business can impact their people who use computers and technology in their workplace. Often they even go so far as to categorize these people as their “knowledge workers”. Having worked in a manufacturing organization and having worked in physically demanding jobs, I can assure you that many of the most “knowledgeable” workers have little exposure to a keyboard and personal computer. Yet their ideas and creative thinking may be overlooked in social business projects.

This is one reason I’m so proud of IBM Connections and the way it allows social business to reach into everyday business applications. I know of one of our customers who have encouraged their production line workers to capture “best practices”…not with a keyboard, but with their cell phone cameras. If they think of a better way to do something, they can simply record the procedure and upload it to their social system…making it instantly available for others to see and possibly set forward an improvement in the entire manufacturing process. The “jig” I made last week saved me time over the course of installing 50 pickets. But what if every week I installed pickets and we had crews installing pickets? The savings of one small “idea” could be incredible.

So I ask you, when you are considering the impact of social business, don’t overlook anyone. Look for ways to leverage the ideas of your entire organization. We are all creative!

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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