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The Toolbox

June 9, 2014
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About 10 years ago, I was doing some of my best professional work. I had learned and mastered my primary job responsibilities, was bored, and was looking for ways that I could apply my unique knowledge, talents and abilities to grow individually and add value for my employer so I could advance professionally.

I had been self-studying web development and computer technology, and was brainstorming ways that I could apply what I was learning in my professional life.

Some of what I learned I translated to a series of emails that were broadcast throughout the service center where I worked. Those emails went out to several hundred coworkers. I sent those emails out weekly with a Tech Tip of the Week subject line, and with a flashy presentation that got attention and shared tips for working more efficiently by employing technology.

About the same time I developed an idea I had for making my work more efficient, and took it a step farther by sharing it with my entire department to make all of our work more efficient, standardized and easier.

I had been finding it to be inefficient and annoying to have to go looking for my work tools, documents and resources on the computer when I needed them. They were all over our shared drive. When I needed a tool, I would have to remember where it was, or figure out where it was, by hunting down paths on our shared drives. It took many clicks to get to the tools I needed routinely to do my job. Eventually I would find them, but it would take a while sometimes which was inefficient. And sometimes I’d find the wrong version of a document because I had not been informed of an update to a new version.

I found and saved the links to the right tools and documents to a PowerPoint Show on the Quick Start Toolbar on my desktop. That way I could click on the PowerPoint Show shortcut to access my tools, then click on the tool I wanted. It was simple and efficient 2-click access to all my work tools. No more hunting down paths on the shared drive to find them. Instant efficiency.

Then, I discovered that I could share the same tool links with my co-workers so that they could benefit from the same efficiency of 2-click access to those same tools, by putting the PowerPoint Show on the shared drive, then adding a shortcut to it to their Quick Start menu in their desktops.

I called this The Toolbox, arranged for a customized logo to brand The Toolbox (altered version below), got management permission to roll it out, and soon our entire department was accessing the Toolbox daily to efficiently access our most commonly used work tools and resources in 2 clicks.

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The Toolbox quickly caught on in my department and became the standard for accessing our work tools, the right work tools, with optimum efficiency.

I developed a manual for how to manage, install and update The Toolbox so that, should I leave, which I soon did, The Toolbox could continue to be updated and useful as tools and resources changed into the future.

I saw an opportunity, acted on it, and made an improvement in my workplace.

My employer gave me an award for my contributions.  They paid for a limousine and dinner for two out at a nice restaurant.  I felt good and proud to be recognized for my contribution.  It was one of few awards I’ve ever received.

I then soon arranged to give a presentation to managers in other departments and offered to help them develop and install their own department toolbox, which I did in one of those departments, and soon transferred to that department.

I understand the toolboxes were still in use even after I had left that employer. I don’t know whether they still are today or not. But the learning that I did developing and promoting The Toolbox was educational, developmental and reputation-building, which helped me to advance to new opportunities and have something unique to talk about and offer in interviews for future job opportunities.

All in all, it was ‘Genius…sheer GENIUS!’.

 

Are you feeling bored, stuck or unfulfilled in your job?

Think outside the box.  Learn something new.  Take a class.  Read a book.  Brainstorm ways to do things better for your yourself, a co-worker, your employer, your community, or our world.  You never know when something you learn is going to help you now or in the future.

Your brain is your toolbox.  Always put good information into it. Always work to get the most out of it.  The world is full of opportunities if you look for them.  Seize the tools to build a better world every chance you get.

 

 

 

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