It seems that for legal and security reasons, Barack Obama will soon be forced to give up his beloved Blackberry. Is there a chance this will make him more productive?
I raise this question out of personal experience. I, Rick Smith, am a reformed crackberry addict. I would reach to my pocket with every new email beep. I would send messages while walking, and slip secretly to the restroom at restaurants so that my wife wouldn't see me feeding my habit. I was simply intoxicated with it!
Then I entered my own "two-step" Blackberry recovery program.
Step 1 - I switched from a full size Blackberry to the smaller Pearl version. The reduced size and weight were a big improvement, but I quickly found that typing emails was much more cumbersome. Long emails became especially frustrating. I almost returned it - until I noticed something unexpected happening. The difficulty in typing resulted in my sending fewer emails, each of which became much shorter. I started checking my Blackberry fewer times a day. I turned off the "new email" beep. The tool was still quite useful, but my interaction with it became much more efficient.
Step 2 - I bought an iPhone. I was lured in by all the applications, and fell in love with it from day one. But industrial strength use of email on an iPhone is impossible. The result? My email efficiency again went up, and my usage went down even more.
And guess what? The productivity of my employees went through the roof! Without me tethered to that additive little devise, waiting anxiously to respond 24-7 to even the most trivial of requests from my employees - they started to make decisions on their own. Downgrading my PDA dramatically upgraded my management skills.
The best managers I have ever worked with set very clear objectives, provided the resources necessary, then gave me the space to get the job done. Blackberry addiction takes away space. The real-time link between manager and employee in the end is extremely frustrating to both. Managers don't have time to think. Employees don't have room to grow. Designed as a tool to increase productivity, the blackberry often becomes a crutch that destroys it.
Obama has a full plate of challenges in front of him. And he may find that ditching the blackberry just might make it a bit easier to manage it all.
Have you overcome a Blackberry addiction?