Fixing Little Things January 8, 2010Posted by Chuck Musciano in Leadership.
I like to tinker with computers. I especially like to make sure that my computer is running as efficiently as possible. This can be a challenge, given that more and more background tasks drain away precious cycles from the work that I want to do.
Recently, I noticed that my laptop was consuming 30-40% of its CPU while idling, instead of the normal 5-6%. I can tolerate losing a bit of capacity to background activity, but 30% is intolerable. After some analysis, I discovered (surprise!) that some obscure Windows process was cycling every second, doing something. But what?
It turns out that I had recently installed an updated sound driver. That driver enabled “enhanced features” like bass boost and surround sound that can be turned on and off on the fly. The driver was checking, once each second, to see if I had suddenly enabled an enhanced feature. Once I disabled all the enhanced features, the driver settled down and my machine returned to idling at 5% or so. Once again, man triumphs over machine.
In some cases, we get so accustomed to dealing with these things that we just accept them as part of our world. I put up with that driver issue for a while before I finally decided to dig in and fix it. Some people would have just assumed that having your machine run at 30% utilization is normal, and not bothered with it at all. Many of us are just too busy to find and fix these little things, even though we know they are negatively affecting us.
Much as this errant driver consumed a disproportionate amount of time on my machine, it is the little things in our world that do the same thing to our personal and professional lives. Few of us have giant, gaping problems that overwhelm us on a regular basis. Instead, we have a number of seemingly small items that ultimately limit our ability to succeed.
How many of these little things in our lives consume more of our time than they are worth? What aspects of our personal lives are less of a help than a hindrance? Similarly, are there little things in our business that absorb too much time and effort? Is there a process that needs tweaking, or a policy to be updated?
It is only natural to look for the big problems and tackle them. It may be more productive, however, to ferret out the tiny things that actually have a bigger impact. What little thing will you find and fix today?