Business & Leadership Behaviors Random Thoughts

SQUIRREL! – Living in a World of Distractions

I don’t know about you, but one of the funnier – and certainly very relatable – parts of Pixar’s movie Up was when Dug (the dog) would suddenly get distracted by just the mention of a squirrel.  Unfortunately, that type of behavior is now part of our everyday lives – and not just with our dogs.


The Technology Invasion

All we have to do is look around us for hundreds of examples.  It’s everything from what’s the latest gossip on the president or AOC to common social media misunderstandings – and that was just yesterday.  Living in a world where we’re bombarded by information 24/7 presents a real challenge for all of us in our daily lives.

Nielsen estimates that Americans average over eleven hours each day watching, viewing, reading or interacting with media.  Combine that with sleeping – there isn’t much time that we’re not being stimulated by outside interests.  For most of us, that starts as soon as we get up.  The barrage continues throughout our workday and easily into our evenings.

How many of us go to bed with the TV on or a tablet/smart phone in our hand?  What used to be a nightly occurrence of a book hitting me in the face as I fell asleep is now my tablet falling on the floor.  And in all honesty – sometime it hits me in the face too.

My distractions easily fit into Nielson’s estimates.  I know I’ll try and justify it by answering emails at 11pm or checking the weather to prepare for the day ahead.  But it’s still a distraction.  We have become attached to our devices – and the distractions that they bring.  The key is now I’m aware of the issue – and more importantly – taking action to improve on it.


Using Technology’s Power for Good

Technology is a real catalyst in the ongoing effort to improve our lives and the world around us.  It’s the foundation of what HL Group provides as its business.

I have spent my entire post-college career with technology companies and have seen amazing success stories.  I have also witnessed technology wasted (poor projects, poor execution, etc,).  One thing that has always been consistent is that wasted efforts are an expensive mistake (time lost, money lost & sometimes opportunities lost).

One of the biggest and earliest challenges we have in our automation solution engagements is an early focus of getting the project well-defined and establishing the goals.  After that it’s a simple formula (says the sales guy) of finalizing the plan to get us there and then executing the plan.

Obviously, there is some sophisticated technology behind the solutions (the development team reminds me whenever I make statements about simple formulas).  But there’s something to be said for the old carpenter statement of “measure twice, cut once.”  It rings true in our work too – regardless of the technical complexities involved.

And while cleanly executed project plans are a little utopian (so says our project management team), a continually evolving formula of solution delivery refinement keeps our plans as close to clean as possible.  We have a number of Posts under Project Management Thoughts if you would like to read additional stories on challenges and lessons learned in these processes.


Rounding It Up

Technology is an amazing tool that enriches all of our lives, but it is also our number one distraction.  In our projects, we try and get people to first focus on the “what and why”, and then we can align the best tools to accomplish the mission.

The tools we can use are always getting better because of technology and its advancements.  As we continue to move forward, we will continue to improve on our use of technology like we did with past technology successes like electricity, transportation and medicine (all which are still growing).

So today, go online and get the research that you need.  But then go and actually talk with the person, not text them on the subject.  Or even use the dinner table as a “technology free zone.”  The personal interaction may do us all some good.

Look for that small step to help you getting distracted by a squirrel.  Because that distraction will likely have no positive impact on where you’re at right then.



Wes Haubein is the President of HL Group, Inc., a premier provider of mobile asset inventory management, RFID and supply chain solutions.  He writes regularly about management, solution integration and technology.