Thriving Through Dis-Automation, Part II

Opinion: Ziff Davis Internet's Jeff Angus writes that it's possible to restructure existing organizations to make processes more efficient by balancing what tasks automated systems handle and which are a human's responsibility.

In my last column, I was telling you about Savage Beast and the Westergren/Glaser model.

The model approaches automation issues by establishing what mix of automation and manual work will product the greatest efficiency—not on automating everything one might be capable of automating.

It parses lists of functions the way youd do it with a group of human employees—doling out tasks based on competencies and effectiveness.

Those tasks IT does best should be assigned to it, and only those tasks.

When you get down to the processes that either technology or humans could handle equally well, the idea is to balance quality against cost.

As Ive explained before, most projects over-automate because the people in charge of the projects tend to be technologists.

As such, they view automation as a virtue in itself, and tend to prefer the work (and sometimes the company) of machines to that of humans.

A secondary but frequent reason is that the finance types who tend to run American organizations are still in the thrall of the de-staffing fad, the mediocre managers simplistic choice to increase returns.

Competitive Advantage

You should play around with the Savage Beast model if youre in an organization where mediocrity isnt good enough.

There are giant potential advances in effectiveness to reap by tuning your mix of technology and human work.

And—because the unchecked self-preservative tendencies of most people within organizations results in a remarkably consistent pursuit of mediocrity—its an advantage your competitors are unlikely to match any time soon.

How do you transfer their model to your own line of work? How do you figure out a better way to design processes to balance most efficiently between human and machine?

If automation is a faith in pure technology without people and Luddism is a faith in pure human effort without technology, what Im urging you to aim for is something I call rationalization.

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