Registration for Kuali Days is now open!

Musings of an Emergency Manager: A Tool Isn't the Whole Answer

June 15, 2021

Musings of an Emergency Manager:

A Tool Isn't the Whole Answer

This may sound strange coming from someone who sells a business continuity planning tool, but tools are only part of the answer. Tools are a means to accomplish an end, not the end themselves. If the proper conditions don’t exist then any tool, no matter how cool/expensive, will fail.

The first condition needed is defined goals for what you want the tool to do. What is the need you’re trying to solve? What are your organization’s priorities? A question consistently asked by departments during the early phase of the pandemic was “What are the administration’s priorities so I know how to prioritize my essential functions?” This was a question I didn’t have a straightforward answer for because the administration hadn’t answered it themselves.(My diplomatic answer was to focus on things they must get done in order to fulfill their department’s purpose. My crass answer was to focus on what pays your bills.)

Next, analyze your situation to choose the appropriate tool for what you want to accomplish. Ideally, we’d all drive to work in chauffeured luxury SUVs, with heated seats, a secure Wi-Fi connection, and a barista in the front passenger seat to meet all our caffeine needs. However, practical things, like the budget, means this isn’t going to happen. However, you can get a reliable car with heated seats that will get you to work within your means.

After you find the right tool, you need the will to use it. We all know someone (or are someone) who has purchased an expensive piece of exercise equipment to slim down, bulk up, or otherwise attain a healthier body. And within a month we have the world's most expensive drying rack for delicates. Why? Because we lack the self-discipline to use it. The same thing happens at universities and other organizations. Some people embrace the new tool, become power users, and exploit it to its fullest potential. Others are determined to not use it as they are contrarians by nature. As I noted in an earlier post I don’t have a surefire method for cracking the Higher Ed buy-in code, but at the very least verify your leadership is committed to the project.

Finally, after you’ve got the tool, you need to be trained on how to use it. I’ve repeatedly seen where people (and may have made a similar choice myself) are willing to shell out big money for a tool but aren’t willing to make the investment in training that will increase the odds of their success. While technically you can teach yourself anything, you’ll see better, faster, and more consistent results if a subject matter expert helps you learn best practices and establish good habits. For instance, my dad taught me to shoot a pistol years ago, but my shooting skill only improved when a certified police firearms instructor took me to the range a couple times.

As I said at the beginning the tool is only part of the answer. It’s only a means of accomplishing your organization’s goals. The foundation you build for it will determine how well it succeeds.

If you have any feedback or suggestions for other topics for me to consider feel free to send me an email.

Get the latest blog in this series delivered to your inbox monthly.

Become a partner, not just a customer.
Connect with Kuali