Tools can be great. But if we want them to actually make our lives better, our tools must always be balanced with the behaviors required to use them.

Let me explain.

Give me a bunch of great construction-worthy tools — hammers, nails, drills, tablesaws, etc. — and I won’t be able to do much other than look like a guy who just spent a fortune at Lowe’s. Give these tools to my dad, on the other hand, and he can build you a house.

If I don’t know what to do with a hammer, the fact that I have one doesn’t help me build anything of value.

Apple knows this, and it’s why almost half of their retail store environment is devoted to stuff that loses money — but teaches you how to use their tools. The back half of every Apple Store is called the Family Room, and the only thing that happens back there is technical support and training. Both of these things cost Apple (lots of) money in the short term. But they know that if they can educate people about how their tools can make life easier — and then give them the behaviors to take advantage of this fact — they’ll become loyalists.

Tools mean nothing if we don’t know what to do with them.

Our organizational tools are the same. In our companies, we give people lots of tools — surveys, assessments, development plans, etc. — but then spend dreadfully little time teaching people the new behaviors which allow them to use these things properly. Many times we don’t teach them anything at all.

Put another way…

We give them a hammer and wonder why they can’t build a house.

We give them a MacBook Pro and wonder why they can’t edit a film.

How ridiculous is this?

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