I know, this sounds goofy, but today I am focusing my gratitude on a computer program. No, I am not reaching for content and I am not copping out. I have been developing my skills in MS Excel for some years now. With my reduced work hours the last few years, I have had more time to think about ways to use Excel better. It is not always about using fancy functions, sometimes it is about how you construct the whole solution. This past few weeks have been very fruitful. A lot of my ruminations of the past are yielding results now. I am working on a spreadsheet “report card” solution for our Agriculture Division. The report card idea had humble beginnings four years ago but it never found a home in the compnay so it slid into the background and into obscurity. A few months ago, someone picked up the torch again on this idea. I got involved immediately and started to put some of my Excel research to use and I am very pleased with where the projects is headed.
Other projects and areas are surfacing as well. I now use Excel for our Formula De League tracking and it is so much easier than previous methods. I think I will also convert the Wings of War League reporting to Excel. Another project on my plate is to build a process booklet for project management along with proper templates and instructions for their use. I am migrating more and more templates to Excel with this new understanding of the tool. It is a rewarding time to be an MS Office geek I think. 🙂
Why do I give a computer productivity program a spot in my spotlight of gratitude? The answer is straightforward; there is beauty in simplicity. Many companies go out and buy massive toolsets for jundres of thousands of dollars. They require significant hardware infrastructure and need specialized trained personnel to install, manage, and use the tools. Along comes this simple little tool with great capabilities just waiting to be explored and used. When it comes to Information Technology, I am a fan of simple is better. I like David & Goliath stories where a simple tool, used elegantly renders a more expensive cumbersome tool redundant.
I know, I am still a geek for being excited about an MS Office product. This very blog entry means I no longer have street cred with I/T people the world over. They are the ones attached to their sophisticated database applications, their cube analytics, and their bloated I/T budgets. They should eschew obfuscation. Today, I am thankful for the opportunity to find simple elegant solutions in interesting ways. MS Excel, Word, & Outlook are all examples of tools with a lot to offer; it is fun to play with the tools and learn some new tricks.
I’m a firm believer that in the theory that people only do their best at things they truly enjoy. It is difficult to excel at something you don’t enjoy. ~ Jack Nicklaus