Ten things to review to see if you are out of date


Are you out of date? Planner 2013

On the weekend I was doing a spring clean. (Even though it’s not actually Spring in Australia). Along the way, I found an unopened Year Planner in mint condition. I thought ‘this could be useful’ until I realized that it was a Year Planner for 2013. Mmm… that’s two years ago. Not much use unless I wait until 2019 when the cycle of dates repeats.

[Updated March 2020 – Added the podcast link below]

Finding this out-of-date planner prompted me to think…

What else am I using or doing that is out of date?

Here are a few things I thought of that might be worth checking for yourself… Are you out of date?

1 Equipment

My computer is three and a bit years old. My smartphone is only 12 months old. My black and white laser printer is a couple of years old. My voice recorder is only 18 months old. Mmm… That’s about it. Could I update? Yes. Would it be a major advantage? No. Am I out of date? Not really.

TIP: Make a list of your equipment and ask yourself the same three questions.

2 Software

One of the best things about keeping up to date with software is that you will typically receive automatic upgrades. Sometimes you have to click to say ‘yes’ I want to update and other times it happens automatically in the background.

This is useful and it can also be a trap. It locks you in! In some areas of software there has been a lot of progress. For instance, in Accounting, MYOB dominated for many years and now Xero and Sassu have probably gone passed them because they were designed to be online from the day one.

TIP: Once a year, take some time to review all your software and ask this basic question: If I was starting out would I still make the choice I made? Then, review what it will take to migrate from one piece of software to another.

[Tweet “10 things that might be out of date in your business #dinosaur “]

3 Habits and Work Practices

One of the areas where work practices have changed dramatically is anything to do with the Internet and the cloud. A mere five years ago, some things that were not realistic are now essential work practices. Backing up your essential data is one of these areas that have undergone substantial change. In the past, I had copies of files on CDs and several hard drives. Some I stored at my work location and some I stored at my Dads in case of fire, theft or Godzilla stomping on my house. Now, I have a hard drive back up on site, plus several cloud backups.

Another area that has transformed dramatically as a result of the Internet is collaboration and outsourcing. Previously, when you had a task that needed doing you either did it yourself or you paid local rates. Now you can outsource almost anything to someone living across the planet and usually for a fraction of the cost. If you haven’t already, this could be a great opportunity to re-invent your work practices and leverage your time more effectively.

TIP: As Tom Peters once said, ‘What have you changed today?’ What adjustments have you made to take advantage of the cloud and global outsourcing?

4 Thinking

Given I work with professional speakers I’m lucky enough to see a lot of them present. Mostly, they’re doing great work. And, because I’m looking so closely at their content, I do notice when an idea is presented that is out of date. Here are a few that I’ve heard recently:

  • The Left and Right Brain – neuroscience has gone well past this idea.
  • Creativity – the big thing is now design thinking and wicked problems
  • Attitude – mostly replaced by mindset and way of being
  • NLP and filters – brain cognition research shows that our brains are triggered to respond
  • De Bono’s Six Thinking Hats – really? I thought everyone on the planet already knew how to do this…

TIP: Read more and talk more with your colleagues to check that your thinking is still current. In particular, if your area is hot and changing quickly, like social media and neuroscience, you might want to start a research project to progress your thinking.

5 Skill Levels

When I was at architecture school we spent a lot of time learning how to hand draw perspective renderings of buildings. At the time it was useful, today almost no one does this because computers have taken over. In the world of sport the fitness and skill levels that enabled you to win last season may no longer be enough. You need to grow your skills just to stay in the game.

TIP: What have you done lately to deliberately upgrade your skills? And, what brand new skills have you learnt?

6 Social Media

I still don’t get it. You’d think I would by now and to be honest I still go back to my old ways. When it comes to social media I still revert back to the desktop to do it instead of using my smartphone. It’s a habit I’m trying to break. It means I’m slow to respond and sometimes as a result I miss the conversation.

TIP: Are you ready to expand your scope and learn a new online platform? Alternatively, what can you learn from a teenager about how its really done?

7 Beliefs

The world used to be flat. Marketing used to be about interrupting people. Phones used to be for making calls on. Your community used to live within driving distance. A camera used to be only for special occasions. The world has changed. The big question is: have you?

TIP: When things aren’t going to plan, take a moment to review your assumptions. Ask yourself, is my belief around this still working for me?

8 Network

Your business is the direct sum of the people you hang out with. Mmm… Who are you hanging out with? Are they conservatives or forward thinkers? Are they laggards or early adopters? Are they about to retire or just graduating with the latest thinking? Are they working in cutting edge industries or dying ones?

TIP: Map out your network and review it based on its currency, diversity and generational value.

9 Website

A few years back when I ran a website design and strategy business, there was a saying that suggested:

Websites are like dogs.

Essentially, one year in the real world equals seven in their world. In other words, your website goes out of date very quickly. The specific words and images on your site may go out of date in months – you do update your client lists on a regular basis don’t you?

The bigger challenge is the look and feel of your website. Whilst you might not recognize it, websites have a look and a feel that dates very quickly. For instance, sliders were hot about 18 months ago. Now they are not because they are clunky to use and provide poor SEO.

TIP: Don’t guess about the look and feel of your website. Instead, just put it in the diary every 12-18 months to upgrade. You’ll look more professional as a result!

10 Photo

I see this a lot! And, I’m guilty of it too! As each day ticks by, I get a little older. Mostly, I don’t notice. Until one day I look in the mirror when I’m feeling a bit flat and tired and there it is: I look older than I did before. Whilst my hairstyle is unlikely to change (unless I start wearing a wig), this will be where you are most likely to be out of date or at least dated.

TIP: Hold up a mirror and compare yourself to your online photos. Now, ask yourself if this is still how you look? C’mon, be honest!


COMMENT: Are you out of date? What would you add to this list?

Listen to this post via our Podcast

Bob Dylan once sang in his voice of sand and glue*, ‘The Times They Are A Changin’. And, that means we need to change too. If we don’t we may fall behind, lag our customers and find ourselves out of date.

In this episode (#76) of the Ideas Architect Podcast, we share a recent blog post that presented 10 ways to see if you were out of date in your business. And, we think it’s a useful checklist for you to upgrade, improve and grow your business.

*David Bowie’s description of Dylan in his song Song for Bob Dylan on his fourth album Hunky Dory

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