Reimagine Excel is not about what Excel can do, but what you can do with Excel.
“Ask not what Excel can do, but what you can do with Excel (… to make everyone more productive, add value to the organisation, make everyone happy, and thereby boost your career)” – JFK
(JFK is Jatinder Farhad Kumaraswamy, Poona, India)
I think I’m correct in saying this.
Most Excel books, training courses, and videos online show you the features of Excel, and how you can use them.
However, the gap in knowledge is – how does one decide which of these features are relevant in any given requirement?
I wrote somewhere about the cool features of the latest motor car. The salesman is expert at demonstrating them – an awesome demonstration. The manual describes those features also, in great detail. But, how to get from where you are (that in itself is a mighty relevant possibly-elusive piece of information, and if you’re not familiar with where you are it’s not all that obvious) to where you want to get to (do you really know where that is? Are you sure the place you think you want to get to is the place that has the thing you want?) is not part of the standard traditional Excel curriculum.
I wrote a blog the other day on the theme ‘To A Man Who Has A Hammer Everything Looks Like A Nail‘. In this I talked about the need to already understand key concepts if we’re to make the correct decision.
The fundamental concepts of good solution design already exists. But why don’t we apply them? Far example, hard-coding cell to cell (Note 1) across workbooks constrains spreadsheets and prevent them from keeping up with changes necessitated by the future. Copying formulas across rows and columns to replicate them (as because Excel makes it easy to do) is stupid and unnecessary, when there already is a well respected concept of creating one piece of logic and reusing that. And, it is just plain common-sense that, if the user (of any gadget, machinery, tool) has more interactions with it the greater the chance of causing some fuck-up. I suppose that’s why, when we get into an elevator (a lift, in the UK) we just press one button that’s clearly marked with a number ‘which floor we want’; instead of having to pull levers and pullies, and manually close the door, and pull some sort of brake when the elevator is passing the floor we want to get off at.
(I also wrote, or should write, a blog on the Horse-Drawn Motor Car, the eco-system that has developed to support it, and the latest innovations that the industry is bringing out, including the robotic horses with AI and machine learning. And Henry Ford’s ‘faster horses’ (mis) quote. But that’s a tricky one to write without pissing off a lot of important people!) I could write it as a ‘fantasy story’ with no reference to Excel.
Every day I hear about new fangled technological accessories for the horses that everyone in the Excel eco-system are excited about …
So, the bunch of content on Remagine Excel is really about you. Of relevance to you if you have Excel at your work, and if you have a fair bit of experience working with Excel. But mostly if you have common sense. Actually, much of what I’m sharing is useless to anyone without a modicum of common sense.
And humor (humour, in the UK). That helps too.
The scenario we’re dealing with exists in every organisation in the world. It existed 20 years ago. Exists today in a much bigger way. And it will continue to exist. What you’re learning here is very relevant today; wherever you are.
Note 1: I’m grateful to Peter Bartholomew for this expression ‘hard coding from cell-to-cell’. He gets a royalty each time I use it in my writing, say it (even in my sleep), and each time someone reads it on my blogs.