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Coping With Constraints

By Dr. Lyndell St. Ville- ICT Consultant

IF our actions or involvement in decisions should have a truly meaningful impact, then we owe it to ourselves to make each step count. Every ounce of energy and effort should contribute toward the overall solution, especially if we do not have the time, money or resources upfront for the whole project.

Consider this: some of our less glamorous and lowly activities benefit from this method of thinking. When cleaning the floor, you probably start at one end of the room, and work your way to the most distant corner. Eventually, the entire space will be glistening and you would have accomplished your task one step at a time. What about our more significant tasks and endeavours? Could they benefit from the stepwise reduction in the total work by making each step count?

At a recent workshop held for teachers, a passionate and highly-spirited attendee complained that his college did not sufficiently invest in ICT to rollout the computers and software needed to deliver better teaching to the deserving students. Of course, I sympathized with his predicament, not only from my perspective as a part-time lecturer, but from the knowledge that very few of us are fortunate to function in an environment without constraints. How about you? Do you have every tool, every device, every square foot or staff member needed to function as you would prefer? If so, please let me know, that I may pay you a visit and a compliment!

When I pointed out to this well-trained teacher that it was his presence, in the face of limited funds, that made the difference in his students’ lives, he was more inclined to agree. His training, adaptability and creativity allowed the other shortcomings to be overcome, to the benefit of his students. As someone who has worked overseas with reasonably well-funded institutions, there was always a focus on cost-containment and reduction. It never seemed that there was a money tree growing in the finance department. What ultimately mattered was our response to the environment where resources were limited.

The power of constraints is that they focus attention on, and force a recognition of, the problem being faced — sometimes from a new perspective. In the world of computing, you know beforehand the constraints of your development effort. Programmes designed to run on one computer may not work as well on your tablet or your smartphone. The very computer hardware and development environment will impose constraints that you must abide by.

The ongoing discussion on budget cuts and constraints should unleash our creative thinking. If there is no adaptability or adaptation in your work environment, then budget cuts only shed a light on an underlying problem, related to workforce preparedness, customer service and critical analysis. There might well be a greater lesson, on the ability to transform working practices to adapt to the shortfalls, constraints, and other difficulties that we face.

To be continued…
To share your views, contact the author at: www.datashore.net or via The VOICE.

About the Author
Dr.Lyndell St. Ville is an ICT Consultant based in Saint Lucia. His expertise includes systems analysis, design, and capacity building.

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