Archive 4 min read

Optimize Your Tools

You know you have to master your tools but are you selecting or building the right tools? A lot of teams over or under engineer their tools. This results in either a failure to return the value invested or lost productivity. Are you hitting the sweet spot?

Optimize Your Tools

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Reasonably Accurate 馃馃 Transcript

Morning everybody. How are you doing today? Um back outside as you can see uh back on uh the gopro with an external mic today. So trying this out, um walking around a little bit seeing how the hyper smooth works because I wanted to talk to you about tools again today.

And the reason being is I just spent the last half an hour changing a spare tire, not fun, especially given that I just had the winter tires put on yesterday and then one of them blew. So uh yeah, not a fun way to start my day, but important, what I was thinking was these tools suck.

Really? They suck. Um using the uh jack in the uh car with uh the spare tire. Not a great experience, not a good tooling experience at all. There's way better ways, there's gotta be a way better, way to set that up, but way better kit to be able to provide.

But then I got thinking and saying, well, wait a minute, that actually important. And I think that's an absolutely critical one more often than not. I see teams that are working on polishing and polishing and polishing. These tools, which they create some amazing tools and amazing functionality and really slick things, but not at all focused on the task at hand.

So, a spare tire, uh I can count on the, you know, on one hand in the last five years, seven years, 10 years, maybe I've had to change spare tires maybe three or four times. Right. It's not an often, it's not a common occurrence.

So why would you optimize that tool set? The job is good enough? Sure. That's an absolutely excruciating and frustrating 10 minutes, but it's 10 minutes times three. So 30 minutes over 10 years, not at all worth optimizing those tools, especially when you consider from a manufacturing perspective, you're putting a set of each of those into every vehicle that you sell.

So there's a cost savings there too. So when I see teams spending time and time again to add features and functionality into internal tools that are already good enough, it's frustrating because I know they're not doing the right value proposition. Here's an exercise for you if you're building your own tools draw out from the customer backwards inside.

So basically for the customer internally, as opposed to your normal view of your internal structure, so take the Amazon approach of writing a press release and then working backward from that. So a press release frequently ask questions and then working backward to make that document come true.

Do the exact same thing. Think about your customer experience and work back from there or think about internal teams experience and work back from there. Don't over invest in tools that you're only going to use once in a while right now. On the flip side, make sure you're investing in tools that you're using all the time.

If you can spend an extra day or two of development time working on a tool that somebody runs every day and it's going to shave 10 minutes off of that task each day. That's worth it, right? Because that two days is going to be returned to you pretty darn quickly, especially if there's more than one person using that tool.

That's a pretty amazing return on investment. But then again, I see a lot of people who don't take those first steps. So it's this interesting, um you know, contrast where people are over investing in tools that aren't that important because it's interesting and, oh, look at all the cool stuff I could do.

Yeah, you could. But is it worth it? And then on the flip side, people aren't investing enough in their tools um to go forward. So, you know, I've changed the look on this show quite a few times. Um Right now I'm in the midst of refactoring a bunch of my software tools.

So I take this, I, I broadcast it out um because of the construction. So I do a prerecording and then, you know, normally I like to go live, but this is a little easier just given the noise in the neighborhood um and testing, right.

If hadn't worked, that would have been super frustrating. So once that's done, I then strip this video of the audio, I reformat it. I do a whole bunch of stuff to it. And about three months ago I automated that entire process, but last week I realized it's not going to cut it, especially coming up to Aws re invent where I'm going to be pushing out a lot of these videos and I'm going to have a lot of content from other people that I'm going to need to process.

So things like transcribe audio, do some analysis on that audio to see the content, the sentiment, stuff like that. So I started ref factoring this script and it turns out, hey, this, you know, one day job of refactoring this big massive script that processes video for me and content for me actually was worth it because now I've got a set of tools that follow the UNIX philosophy, you know, do one thing, do one thing well and they're easier to maintain in themselves, which is great um to answer your impending question.

Yes, I'm going to open source them. I'm going to put them up on my github uh in the next couple of weeks. I hope because I think they'll be useful to you if you're doing anything around content. But that's the key thing. For today is make sure you're investing the right amount in your tools because people over invest and under invests and it's rare to hit that sweet spot, but it's absolutely critical because that's what's gonna make the difference for you moving forward.

Hope you're set up for a fantastic day. Love to hear what you think about this issue. Uh Let me know online Mark NCA. I think one side, one of the side has the logo up there at, at Mark NC A on social for those of you in the vlogs down below in the comments.

And as always before podcast listeners and everybody else email me at Mark N dot ca. How do you optimize your tool set? How do you make sure that you're investing the correct amount not over or under investing? Really excited to see the discussion that pops up on this one.

Have yourselves a fantastic day and we'll talk to you on the show tomorrow.

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