A McKinsey colleague once told me a funny yet sad story of this old lady working at a client company.
He had to meet her a few times with some data requests. Since she used to always appear busy and overworked, he asked her what her job was.
Turns out, she used to daily get a dump of sales data, on which she would do some data cuts to calculate a few metrics. (E.g., for each product line, who were the top salespersons in a given geography, etc.)
And she had been doing these analyses manually, spending 8 hrs a day, for years. With an incredulous expression, he asked her, ‘Have you not heard of Excel pivot tables?’
She seemed clueless. He then quickly showed her that the data cuts she wanted, could be pulled in minutes. To further show off his smartness, he jestfully calculated and told her, ‘Look, you have wasted XX thousand hrs over the last few years.’
At this point, the woman started crying. My friend then realized that he had been quite insensitive.
But there is a bigger lesson here.
We are all very busy. But are we spending time on the highest ROI thing, i.e., learning?
Learning consumes time, but inefficiency consumes 100x more. Let’s put time on our calendar daily and learn for an hour.
Either that, or we perish.