I remember the first time I bought my first package of floppy disks.

My first exposure to the now obsolete floppy disk, was in 1981. I was an Airman in the United States Air Force and was developing course curriculum. We used typewriters to create content snippets and then we would cut and paste that content onto sheets of paper. Then we sent them to a different unit for word processing. After many hours of editing poorly crafted documents, I (secretly) found my way to the wang word processing units and began creating my own documents. The primary trick was how to save the newly created documents. Imagine the challenge of finding an 8-inch floppy disc in a pre-Internet era.

When floppy disks came into our world in the 1970s, they were game-changers. Suddenly, the everyday person could load operating systems and other software programs onto their personal computers. Floppy disks allowed us to store data reliably, innovate and increase our market edge by writing programs, putting them on the diskette and selling them in stores. With the floppy disks, we no longer needed the tabulating card. And none too soon, I remember my first college programming class and spending countless hours trying to load those non-perfectly flat punch cards.

In their heyday—in the mid-1990s—floppy disks generated more than five billion in sales per year worldwide. The floppy disk was King and year-after-year the technology became smaller and improved, thereby showing no sign of extinction…. until the late 1990s when we saw the death of the floppy disk. Seemingly out of nowhere came inventions like rewritable CDs and USB memory sticks that were capable of holding an exponentially greater amount of information, and thereby negating the need for the disk. And just like that, we moved our beloved disks to “that” closet in our offices, we shoved them behind our fancy new computers, and we effectively kissed the disk goodbye.

Today, the floppy disk has become nothing more than a pleasant memory. Or, as Andrew Reichman, an analyst at Forrester Research, said in 2007, the floppy disk is “of interest only as a historical curiosity.”

And it’s for good reason! The beauty of technology and creative ingenuity is we are always one idea away from the next great idea that can transform our personal and professional worlds. It’s why broadband has replaced dial-up, streaming music has replaced CDs and touchscreen has replaced keypads. By now, as a society, we are so conditioned to revolutionary innovations that we anticipate sweeping change at a moment’s notice.

But despite us knowing this—despite us understanding fundamentally that new technology is created to make our lives easier—we as business leaders still allow our environments to be rife with legacy systems and outdated technologies. For instance, we may still rely on Access and FoxPro databases, even though we know there is a more efficient way to store and access data. All too often, we keep our CRM platform and phone system from ever speaking to one another even though we know an integration would significantly improve our ability to deliver superior customer service. What’s more, a number of us are still asking our teams to generate manual reports monthly—exorbitant, paper-heavy reports that no one ever reads but that we keep generating because “we always have.”

Why?

Why are we keeping “floppy disks” in our environment when we know there are better ways?

Market research and anecdotal stories from our teams suggest that we are failing our teams. A recent global study from Oracle and Kanter TNS of 5,000 full-time employees across 20 countries found that 56% of employees don’t have the latest tech needed to do their job well. What’s more, only 44% of employees said their company uses the latest technology to enable them to perform their role effectively.

(I encourage you to check out this podcast from my team Randy Jackvony and Carrie Majewski where they pull back the layers on this problem in greater detail.)

We are breaking our teams. We are forcing them to use floppy disks. We may even be stuck in the 1970s.

When you think of your business environment, consider if any of the following pain points ring true:

  • Your employees are stuck in Excel hell
  • You have sole keepers of company knowledge
  • You rely on old, antiquated databases
  • You fail to get user adoption with your technology rollouts
  • Your client, partner and stakeholder engagement with your brand is weak at best
  • None of your systems play nice with one another, meaning you have siloed data
  • You move crucial paperwork through the organization just for signatures
  • You continue to attach files for review to your email messages
  • You still have no way to share critical information to your employees, partners and clients

If any of these pains describe your business reality, you might have a floppy disk present. So… what will you do to better support your team? What innovations can you bring to your business environment to improve productivity, enhance collaboration and increase morale? What steps can you take tomorrow to make your workplace a little more excellent?

Ready to get rid of your floppy disk? Interested in pioneering a movement towards workplace excellence within your department or organization? Click here to learn more about Trilix’s two-hour, interactive workshop to take your commitment to continuous improvement to the next level.

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