Tooling Up or Schooling Up? - Kay-Lambert Associates Limited

Kay-Lambert Associates Limited

Training, Coaching & Consultancy for Growth

Tooling Up or Schooling Up?

My kitchen cupboards are probably typical. Filled with gadgets that I’ve hardly used since the day I bought them. They sit, languishing in the darkest corners, unloved and unremembered.

At the time I bought them, I had kidded myself that I had to have them. They would be useful time-savers. They would make food preparation processes simple and trouble-free. They could chop, dice, mash, hydrate, crush, spin, slice and drizzle far better than I could with my traditional implements and bare hands.

But now they huddle at the back of the cupboard after only a cursory outing. They take up space that could be used so much more effectively, and yet I haven’t the heart to ditch them.

Some of the gadgets are just plain ridiculous, but not all of them. In the right hands they could be extremely useful and make a very positive contribution to my culinary efforts.

The trouble is…I can’t be bothered to use them. It’s awkward getting them out of the cupboard. There are now so many of them that it takes a major kitchen re-organisation to access the one I might want. So I do without…and I’m getting on just fine, thanks.

But when the next gadget is advertised, or I spot one in a friend’s kitchen, I’m leafing through the Argos catalogue or browsing on-line to see where I can pick one up for a good price. They seem like a good idea at the time.

We’re obsessed with tools and gadgets! We’ve been obsessed for decades since the advent of ‘mod-cons’, and probably before. We just can’t get enough…but that doesn’t mean we’ll ever use them. Our intentions are good but reality takes over.

Too often, companies play to our hunger and thirst for new tools. They introduce a new model, a new process, or a new technique. New technology is purchased that will “revolutionise the way we do business!” The ‘novelty of the new’ is a clue to what happens next. Novelties are fleeting – their gloss tarnishes quickly. Novelties are ‘non-stick’.

I’ve seen it so often in training interventions where participants are introduced to a new way of doing things. Lean is a prime example. The toolbox is massive (5S, Six-Sigma, Poke-Yoke, Single Minute Exchange of Die, etc.), but the mind isn’t suitably developed to use it.

If you want to give a child tools, you tend to make sure that they are fit to use them first. You educate them. You develop their understanding of what and why and how; and you create a desire to use them wisely – not just acquire them. But with adults, we simply throw the tools at them and expect that they will be used.  Why are we so surprised when they end up discarded?

That’s why the starting point needs to shift away from giving out more and more tools, and move towards developing attitudes, mind sets and habits that will encourage and enable people to use the tools available to them. If we don’t do this, we will fall into ever-decreasing circles where all new practices, however good in essence, end up down the plughole.


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