How To Do Less (Part One ft. Socrates)

It’s a common thought that in order to accomplish more, we must do more. This is a logical fallacy. Let’s find the mistaken belief based on an unsound argument that causes us to think this way.

Nick: My job as a Salesforce administrator is to help our users with their problems. If our users didn’t have problems with Salesforce I wouldn’t have a job. Therefore, the more problems I solve the better I am doing my job.

Socrates: False. I do not accept your conclusion you buffoon!

Nick: Socrates, oh my goodness! I thought you were dead. I’m totally right, though, my job depends on me helping users solve their problems, so if I solve more problems, I’m doing a really good job!

Socrates: Let’s have my favorite kind of discussion then, a Socratic discussion, so I may disabuse you of this mistaken belief. Why do you say that your job is to help your users with their problems?

Nick: I was hired to do so. My company PAYS me to do this.

Socrates: So your first responsibility is to help the company, and not the users, would you agree?

Nick: Well, technically, yes. My company does sign my paycheck after all.

Socrates: Is it possible to help the company and not the users?

Nick: I don’t see how.

Socrates: You must think harder! If the sales team closes a sale and generates revenue, they have helped the company without helping users solve problems, correct?

Nick: Oh, I see. Yes it is possible to help the company by not helping users solve their problems, but I don’t close sales – I’m an administrator!

Socrates: And why did the company hire you to be an administrator?

Nick: Well, I thought to be helpful to users. But now I’m not sure.

Socrates: Well then, let us explore your purpose as an administrator by asking another question: What is the purpose of your company and its business?

Nick: To create and keep customers, I suppose, in order to make money.

Socrates: Precisely! The goal of a business is to make money. Therefore, actions that make us money move us towards our business goal, and actions that do not make money move us away from our business goal. Is this fair?

Nick: Yes, that’s fair. So actions that make money are the best things to do!

Socrates: Very close. We can choose either actions that make us money OR actions that save us money. Do you see why?

Nick: Oh. Yes. If I prevent us from spending money unwisely it has the same effect as if I had created a sale or made us money in some other way.

Socrates: Correct. Your job then, in fact, is to help the company make or save as much money as possible – not necessarily to solve user problems. Is this reasonable?

Nick: Well yes… but helping my users does save us money. They are encountering errors and that’s costing them time, which in turns costs the business in payroll expense.

Socrates: A valid point. However, if two actions both make or save money, which one should we choose first?

Nick: The one that makes or saves the most money, I assume?

Socrates: Eureka! So, in order to prioritize an action, what question needs to be answered?

Nick: Does this action make or save the company more money than anything else I could be doing right now?

Socrates: Exactly. Since your job is to help the company make or save as much money as possible, you must decide which tasks do this most effectively.

Nick: …so if I measure success by how much money I’ve saved or made the company I’m on the right track?

Socrates: Bingo. Now you’re learning. And does that mean you need to solve a large number of problems?

Nick: I suppose the total number of problems I solved wouldn’t matter as much as the total value I delivered by solving them. If I solved one BIG problem, it could be worth more than solving 15 or 20 smaller problems.

Socrates: Simply genius. Let me test you… What one problem can you solve such that, by solving it, everything else becomes easier or unnecessary?

Nick: Uhhhh….

Socrates: I’ll give you one week to think about it. Don’t disappoint me!

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