The golden hammer approach to automation

Often, it’s easy to view automation software as a shiny golden hammer that can fix every problem.

The versatility of automation software means that you can apply it effectively across your business. It can support every team, from HR to customer service, IT to finance. As a result, it is tempting to try to automate away any and every business woe.

But this doesn’t pan out in practice. Reality requires a well-stocked tech toolbox to achieve the highest productivity and efficiency. Here, we explore the golden hammer approach to automation.

The golden hammer approach

The golden hammer approach is one of many names for the Law of Instruments. It refers to a cognitive bias in which we favour and rely too much on familiar tools. Or, summarised into a single, simple sentence:

“When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.”

– Abraham Maslow

‘The golden hammer’ is also known as the ‘hammer-and-nail analogy’, ‘Maslow’s gavel’, and the ‘law of the hammer’.

So, in short, a golden hammer is a tool that you know well and rely on whenever you encounter new problems.

Golden hammer automation

It’s the versatility of automation software that makes it so prone to the golden hammer approach. Automation software answers efficiency and productivity woes across your business. There are automatable processes everywhere — from IT to finance, database management to emails and admin.

Because you can create your own rules for seemingly any area of business, automation soon becomes a familiar tool. One with, that is, a vast array of potential and functionality. If it can solve so many problems across your business, why not this new one? You know how to use your automation tool, and so far, it’s been the only solution you’ve needed for all your repetitive processes.

In other words, when all you have is automation, everything looks automatable. But you can’t bring down the automation hammer to fix every problem.

Fully stocked toolbox

Sometimes, even when automation can do something, it doesn’t mean that it should. For example, automation can help you give speedy customer replies by using auto-responses. But it’s never going to be as effective as a human team member at helping customers. So, you’d likely be better served by blending minor automation – FAQ chatbots, ticket confirmation, etc. – with manned live chat and telephone channels.

Other times, automation is simply unable to solve your inefficiency. For instance, decision-making processes. Automation software cannot draw conclusions from data or learn from errors and outputs. So, if your problem requires a tool that helps you make decisions, you could be better served by AI and machine learning.

Some DIY problems call for a hammer, and others a drill. Similarly, some business problems need automation, and others need another tool. Businesses, then, need a fully stocked tech toolbox as much as a mechanic or engineer needs a fully stocked physical toolbox.

There’s no golden hammer

There’s no such thing as a golden hammer — and that applies to other tools too. No one tool can solve every problem or inefficiency. Automation is a crucial business tool. But it’s not the only one you need.

So, don’t try to use another tool when automation is the best one for the job, and vice versa. When you come across a new problem, make sure you question which tool is the best for the job and fully stock your toolbox.

Filling your tech toolbox

Is there an automation-shaped hole in your tech toolbox? Fill it today, with a free trial of ThinkAutomation.