Why Teaching Basic Computer Science is a Crucial Business Skill

Digital Services E-Commerce Growth Programming Technology

Learning the basics of computers changed how I viewed the world.

No, really.

They seem to like this magical thing that works somehow, and our media and cultural fears play highly on that magical feature, but when you break it down it’s really quite understandable and simple. Computers have a language, and there are rules to language. There are rules that computers [and technology] operate within, and that’s just that. If you take away the idea that it’s magic, and try to understand, it becomes simple.

Computers arent magic. They do not have personalities, and even though we as humans find it easy to attribute emotional responses to their actions — like a computer freezing up on us, or refusing to send an email, we have to remember that they are just machines, effectively following a series of rules.

This is key to dispelling the mystery, and opening ourselves up to the idea that we can understand why they do the things they do, even without knowing the full technical details, or a full arsenal of programming knowledge. We can then even use this to better structure why we do what we do. Using programmatic thinking can reduce decision fatigue and increase the effectiveness of your daily operations.

My first and most important lesson in computer science came with the understanding of “IFTT”. “If this, then that” refers to conditional statements [conditional constructs] which are features of a programming language, and they perform different actions depending on whether a condition equals true or false. IE: IF user clicks X, display Y. [this is for comprehension only, not true programming].

When I learned about the concept of, “if this, then that”, I was able to structure out problems I was facing in my business. I was able to easily diagnose when problems were tech, or user error, because I understood the basic framework of the problem. I was able to listen to problems, and frame them within what I knew to be true about computer logic. It gave me this magical ability to solve problems for my team — intelligent people — some of whom simply did not have strong computer literacy skills. For longer than I’d like to admit, this made me perceive them as less capable.

It is impossible to know all the factors that brought your teammate to you, how they view the world through their filter, and if they have the same basis of education as you, but you can likely tell and recall that they are a fellow intelligent soul. Knowing this, evaluate your own base knowledge — and your empathy levels.

Implementing programmatic thinking in the day-to-day behaviors of your teammates makes it easier for them to understand and troubleshoot when things go wrong.

“If this is happening, then I need to look for this trigger.”
“If our web-server goes down, then we need to reset x.”
“If the shipping address is missing a zip code, then verify with Google Maps."

<this is why tech training reduces operational efficiency>

Mental fatigue is present in all organizations, and anything we can do to reduce it aids in the productivity, and thus success, of our workforce.

Understanding this methodology can have a meaningful impact to your own workflow — even if that’s primarily organizational or planning.

<training your team to problem solve>

Being able to diagnose user error versus system error in a technology-based business is the line between being successful and burning capital. User error, human error, is the greatest cause of inefficiencies and capital burning in most e-commerce businesses today.

Automation is a key part for business in order to handle the volume of tasks with the size of team that we have. And in order to effectively utilize technology and automation, it’s vital for us — not only in management but across our organization — to understand these concepts.

Automation exists in every software that our team uses, and the fundamental to every project and process that we build out. After all, that’s the power of technology — to enable us to more effectively do our jobs.

As many businesses move to or rely on digital to survive, more people are becoming in tech or tech-related careers without fully realizing it, and many are entering without any real previous technical knowledge.

<plus your team thrives>

Understanding technology & computers are empowering. Not just knowing how to use a specific program, but a deeper understanding of machines that enables the user to establish a level of comfort, and more importantly — a want to learn and explore more.

Learning “If this, Then That”, creates a problem-solving structure that any teammate can run a situation through and self — diagnose.

Previously published at https://medium.com/@Iamdarbycox/why-teaching-basic-computer-science-is-a-crucial-business-skill-2a5267c2da07. For more of Darby Cox's writing for Medium, Follow her on medium here.

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