The Cloud Idea

Excel has some cool features for making us more productive than ever before.

But, if we want to ease the bottle-necks that affect our work … that’s not enough. We need to make other people more productive.

Yes. Other people!

How can we make other people more productive?

After all, an Excel spreadsheet is a single-user thing, right?

Well, actually in an organisation no spreadsheet does a single-user thing. Everything we do is workflow involving many people.

You mean we need cross functional productivity?

Re-imagine Excel teaches The Cloud Idea as applied to Excel spreadsheets.

(It’s the principle behind cloud solutions that we already understand; but not necessarily working over the internet, though it can. Mostly you will collaborate via an internal shared drive)

This is where several different spreadsheets used by many different people, in different departments, need to share the same data. Currently we do several unnecessary things – we email spreadsheets to copy/paste, we link spreadsheets, we re-enter data manually. All of these make spreadsheets fragile, force too many manual interactions, and leads to errors. The Cloud Idea avoids all of these.

In the picture at the top of this page illustrates this; the Beatles are four different spreadsheets. The clouds are any location that the spreadsheets can reach, where we can keep neatly structured data all the spreadsheets need to use.

For a quick overview of some of the common problems you can solve with this idea, see here.

Finally, everybody singing off the same hymn sheet!

Edit: When I put up the cover of Abbey Road on this post, it was to be temporary while I sketched a suitable representation of The Cloud Idea. But it got me thinking. In 1969 when the Beatles recorded and released their best work, they were individually working on their own creative projects. During the six months they worked on the Abbey Road album (which sadly was to be their last) they inspired each other with a common pool of shared creativity.

The Cloud Idea is how ‘many spreadsheets can share common data’, in a way traditional ways cannot do without also creating an almighty mess.

Examples here.