Transformation: Hammer To Nail Gun

A carpenter has a hammer for framing new homes. She walks to work with the hammer, some nails and a few additional tools in a bag. She enjoys her work, is able to accurately estimate the time to frame a house and can forecast her work output, along with resulting revenue generation for the month/quarter/year.

Before long, the nail gun is invented. It’s clear the new tool will at least double her productivity and enable her to take on additional work. Without thorough understanding or analysis, she invests in the new tool. Here’s a simplistic breakdown of the impact.

– nail gun
– new nails (may cost more than traditional nails in the beginning)
– air compressor (may be reused to run additional tools later)
– gas can

– sales & marketing need to generate more demand for additional capacity
– accounting needs to re-work forecasting models
– gasoline to run the compressor
– transportation since the compressor in too heavy to carry

Side effects and unforeseen:
– she is perceived as an early adopter and thought leader
– some additional work comes along based on perception related to the latest tool
– some work may be lost because she is no longer viewed as a traditionalist or craftsperson
– on the first day with the new tool she shoots 3 nails through her hand and cannot work for 1 month (in addition to lost wages, she is uninsured and gets lockjaw from the tetanus)

In theory the shift from hammer to nail gun is simple. In practice, the impact of the new tool can have far-reaching and sometimes painful implications if carelessly implemented. It’s easy for the shiny new tool to get all of the glory in the beginning, become a temporary pariah, then settle in to ubiquity until the next disruption. But it was never about the tool. It’s still about the carpenter and the house.