Prairie Trail Software, Inc.

Recent View from the Prairie Articles

November 2022

Stop; Look; and Listen

On many a rural road, there is a lonely rail road crossing marked by an X sign with the words, "Stop, Look and Listen" written on them. Most times, there is nothing to see or hear as few trains come by. But when one does, it can crush anything on the tracks.
The message on the sign can be a slogan for our own times. In our busy lives, we can get caught up in events, reacting to situations, and unable to relax enough to learn anything new. Under the crush of work, many of us find ourselves narrowing our focus till we are living in a small bubble of work, eat, and sleep. In many cases, we do better if we stop, look, and listen.

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Trust and Productivity

Recently, the productivity index was released and it showed a sharp drop in productivity. When the pandemic hit and many people started working from home, the productivity index hit some new highs. Recently, managers have been requiring people to come back to the office and productivity dropped instead of rising further. Part of the issue is trust. In general, people are more productive when trusted. .

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October 2022

Leave Work at the Office

Are you awake at night worrying about work? Or taking work on vacations? One famous business person has sent out tweets to his staff at 2 AM and expected responses. Answering emails / instant messages / tweets at all hours of the night. Being on call from midnight to 5 AM and yet expected to do a full day's work. Sleeping in the spare office. These are all signs of how work has been invading personal time. Americans work some of the longest hours of any "first world" nation. Yet, the pressure to take on more keeps coming. This pressure is not helping our productivity. At some point, we need to start shedding work. The pressure to work more hours does not help our productivity."

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It Always Takes More Time

Many a young programmer has looked at a problem and confidently asserted that they could write a program in a short time to fix it. Sometimes, months later, that project is gently killed having badly overrun the time estimate and produced only a bug-ridden mess. They ran into the problem that has been described as "Those who plan on winning a short war often lose a long war." Nearly every development project that does not consider all the aspects of delivery has run well over the estimate. We often jump into problems without fully understanding them.

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September 2022

Do No Harm

Can business operate on the concept of "do no harm"? At one point, a major corporation had that concept in their motto, but dropped it in the face of a constant drumbeat to make more profit. It is a challenge to commit to making the community better and yet not do harm. Because change may include some destruction, the community decides what is harm and what is not. We want to be doing more building than destruction. At its core, Capitalism has the concept of "creative destruction"

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Constructive Response

As business people, we get inundated with events and requests. It can be overwhelming and many people find themselves responding "reactively". Media and political parties attempt to get all of us to respond reactively in ways that give them more money and power. It can greatly benefit us all to figure out different responses. Some of the worst examples of bad responses occur when we respond reactively

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August 2022

Commitment to the Community

We may have been working hard building the business and walking a lonely path. Eventually, we realize that we cannot stand alone. We have to come up for air and then may realize our own need for community. We need a community. We live in a community. Our business operates in a community of customers, suppliers, and employees. Now, because of our need for community, we start to take responsibility for the well-being of the community.

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Trust the computer?

Have you ever wondered about those AI based recommendations? YouTube keeps suggesting videos you don't want to watch. Instagram offers clips of subjects you don't like. There are so many places suggesting things but the suggestions need to be carefully reviewed. AI systems work best as assistants, not as managers.

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July 2022

Dare to Dream

We dare to dream, big dreams, and dreams that inspire many. Yet, we often fail to reach those dreams. However, just reaching for those dreams can make a difference in the world. Even falling short of our lofty dreams means that we are reaching for high ideals. So many times, realizing our dreams is beyond our capabilities. We reach out to others, sharing the dream and hoping that

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No Regrets

Not doing can lead to regrets. Rarely do regrets come over what we have done. We may have guilt over past actions and need to take actions to clean up a situation. But not following our own values and squandering opportunities builds regrets far more.

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June 2022

Culture and Character

Do people wave and smile in your neighborhood? These little things and many more are how a neighborhood builds a culture. In the same way, every business has a culture, built through how we handle events and customer issues. The business culture can have strengths which help or flaws that hinder the business.

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Compliance

President Ulysses Grant vowed in his inaugural address to enforce bad laws so that people will force them to be repealed. This idea has also been ascribed to President Lincoln. A number of employees have taken this advice to heart when given bad instructions and decided to follow the rules to the letter. In some cases, the results have been humorous. There are numerous stories of "malicious compliance". Being in one of those stories is not a "win" for the company.

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