Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Why Consultants Should Learn to Type


How's that for an answer to the title question? If you're wondering where that came from, the answer's simple. Let's conservatively estimate the size of the consulting industry to be $200 billion[1][2]. Without adding more people, what would happen if the productivity of people already in the industry increases by 50%? That 50% would amount to $100 billion, and that's the reason I believe all consultants should learn how to type.

Okay, lest my alma mater revokes my MBA, I'll admit right now my posit is a gross exaggeration based on unrealistic assumptions. So I'm off... but by how much?

50% is bogus. Or is it?

"The average person types between 38 and 40 words per minute... However, professional typists type ... upwards of 65 to 75 WPM."[3] The difference between the professional typist and the average person is simply that the professional typist learned to type. And my adjusted typing speed is 87 WPM, even with a wrist injury.

#yawn So what? So if you're not typing at least at the pace of a professional typist, consider yourself handicapped. Not in a derogatory way, simply such that you have much untapped potential.

Try an analogy

Take human speech as an example. Here are two clips below from two consultants pitching their firms to win a project. Which one would you hire?

Consultant A

Consultant B

You've probably figured out that it's the same voice recording, with the modified clip slowed to 67% of the original. But isn't the difference obvious? If you wouldn't hire the second guy because he spoke so slowly, why should you settle for the guy who types that way?

Keep in mind that typing is not rocket science. All it takes is scheduled time and practice.

Imagine if

... John the business analyst suddenly produces 50% more:
  • Detailed notes from meetings
  • Thorough functional requirements
  • Accurate and comprehensive documentation

... Jane the app developer suddenly produces 50% more:
  • Code
  • Code comments
  • Regression test automation

... Jill the project manager suddenly produces 50% more:
  • Personalized stakeholder communications
  • Risk reports and mitigation strategies
  • Next phase project proposals

... everyone shared and collaborated 50% more on enterprise platforms! (Chatter, anyone?)

The value gained from a 50% increase in typing speed is not proportional. I believe it's exponential. People who have speech impediments tend to speak less. You can guess that people who have typing impediments will avoid mediums where typing is the means to communicate.

And if your consultants, your organization doesn't care to address people's typing skills, aren't you leaving money on the table from your investments in typing-based platforms like SharePoint? Salesforce? Confluence?

Closing thoughts

I believe we owe it to ourselves, to our companies, to our economies, to learn this simple skill that catalyzes collaboration and value creation in the digital age. And if you're a company, teaching your people to type is a one-time investment that will pay lifetime dividends.