Automation and the nature of effort

The ongoing advancement of technology has a common theme. That is, no matter the tech tool, software or innovation in question, they all strive to reduce human effort.

Think about it, cars reduce the effort needed to get around. Mobile phones reduce the effort needed to get in touch with each other. And automation software reduces the effort needed to tackle your daily workflows.

But the nature of effort poses a hidden danger to this drive. That is, as we reduce the effort costs of our daily tasks, it could be that we’re reducing their value. This is known as the effort paradox.

The effort paradox

Effort, noun. Physical or mental activity needed or exerted to achieve something.

Effort is considered costly. It’s the barrier that stops you from getting things done. It’s tiring, it takes energy and motivation and discipline to exert. And so, we have tools like automation software to reduce the need for effort in our daily lives.

The issue is, the nature of effort is paradoxical. Because along with being costly, it’s also valued. That is, there’s value in human effort. So, when you strive to reduce that human effort — or indeed, abolish it entirely — you overlook the benefits that it brings to your team and your work.

Two parts of effort’s value

There are two key areas where the nature of effort brings value to our lives.

  • 1. Effort makes the outcome more rewarding and valued

First, the more effort that we put into an activity, the more we value the outcome. That is, the harder you work on something, the more likely you are to value that thing.  

This is an observable phenomenon, for example, with the IKEA effect. The IKEA effect is the name given to the fact that customers value a product they’ve helped to build more than the same product premade for them.

  • 2. Effort itself is valuable

Second, effort itself is considered a valuable commodity. In fact, the application of effort is often associated with increased wellbeing. (That is, when you’re applying the effort to a goal-oriented behaviour or task.) 

In short, it seems to be the case that for the cost of well-placed effort, you buy value.

Adding automation to the mix

The nature of effort means our tech is reducing the value of our tasks and giving rise to boredom. In fact, the effort paradox is currently touted as the ‘danger of automation’ for this reason. 

A core driving force behind deploying automation software is to reduce the effort spent on routine tasks. By doing so, though, are you robbing your team of the value of effort and the boost to wellbeing it causes?

Not to mention, by reducing the effort needed to complete tasks, those tasks could become perceived as less valuable. This could prove demotivating to your team. After all, it means that they wasted their effort on tasks now considered low value.

Empowering the nature of effort

But let’s not forget that the nature of effort is still costly. By deploying automation, you reduce the costly nature of the repetitive and tedious work.

Plus, the effort-fed sense of wellbeing doesn’t come from just any effort. Rather, it comes from us applying effort to furthering our goals. (Not the effort wasted on habitual, distracting tasks.) After all, how often have you felt fulfilled by pouring your effort into repetitive admin?

Business process automation, then, can avoid the effort paradox to provide value. Because it reduces the effort cost of the habitual, repetitive tasks, your team can direct more effort to the higher-value tasks. That is, the ones that further your goals.  It’s these higher-value tasks that unlock the effort-fed sense of wellbeing.

The nature of effort

The nature of effort is a paradox. It has two sides, cost and value. By deploying automation effectively, you reduce the costs of effort where it offers the least value.

Then, you can apply effort to furthering your business, meeting your goals, and driving the personal wellbeing of your team members.

So, unlock the valuable nature of effort, with a free trial of ThinkAutomation.