What Does it Take to Change the World?

“Don’t discount the power of butterfly wings (even paper ones)!”

If the business world can be summed up as “chaos theory” then I am striving to implement the “butterfly effect”. Let’s address a reality: the business world runs on paper.

For all of our powerful computers, sleek phones, fast internet connections and virtual meetings, not only have we not eliminated the appetite for paper, we’ve actually increased it. Yes, we need paper, but the world will change… one butterfly, er, page at a time.

There’s a reason we still use paper – it’s cheap, easy and what we all know it. More importantly people don’t change their behavior until they are forced to or until they see a personal benefit. Many people don’t even believe it’s possible to eliminate the paper used in their businesses. That’s where I entered this equation.

When I was flying more than 100,000 miles per year for Arthur Andersen I knew that the costs of paper were directly reflected in the dragging weight of my computer bag. Try walking hundreds of miles through airport terminals and you’ll quickly realize that one of the best ways to reduce back pain is to eliminate carrying paper. I developed the habit of using my computer for everything. Any paper I was given was left out of my bag (preferably in a recycle bin).

The metaphor of the butterfly effect is that tiny changes effected by one butterfly could eventually alter the path of a tornado. What started as the simple premise of reducing the weight of my bag led me down the path to enterprise forms automation. Sure, initially my ideas only saved a few sheets of paper, but today my solutions are saving tens of millions of pages of paper per year. Now that’s a lot of butterfly wings.

Tens of millions of pages saved is a great start. Ready for some proof? I recently heard from one of our customers who (unbelievably!) prints a train-load of paper each year and even though the number of forms submitted to them has doubled, their printing volume has remained the same by using automated forms.

Don’t discount the power of butterfly wings (even paper ones)! 100% elimination of paper may never happen but there can be change.

Thanks for reading.
Richard Walker

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