Thursday, September 14, 2017

Quit Looking for Silver Bullets and Get to Work Improving Management

My comments on There Are No Silver Bullets:

It is somewhat amazing that nearly everyone would agree with the sentiment that there are no silver bullets but if you evaluate what they seek for management improvements they want silver bullets :-(

If you like to find the silver lining amidst clouds this tendency to want magic solutions means that you can make great progress if you are willing to do the work. Others are not using well known management improvement strategies not because they don't work but because they are not silver bullets.

Related: Why Use Lean if So Many Fail To Do So Effectively - The Quick Fix Doesn't Exist - Everyone wants instant pudding

Thursday, September 07, 2017

People and Robots Together

Comments on: The Coming Auto Industry Battle: Toyota’s People vs. Tesla’s Robots?

Toyota's method is the best and will continue to be.

However, I believe we have reached a turning point where the effectiveness of industrial robots has greatly improved. For several decades it was pretty easy to predict wholesale adoption of the robots will save us mantra would be followed by failure. I still strongly believe Toyota's method (thoughtful use of robotics to enhance people is the best strategy). But the ease of using robots to succeed in the long term is much enhanced these days.

Robot first strategies are going to be succeeding quite a bit going forward. Yes those efforts might not be good enough when competing only with companies using the best strategy well (but that will be rare).

I wrote some about this in a recent blog post: Technological innovation brings great opportunity for improving results and our quality of life. But transforming potential benefits into real results comes with many challenges...

Essentially I see people today too dismissive of the usefulness of industrial robots. And they have past examples to point to in showing how a large commitment to robot first failed. It isn't that today robot first is the best strategy but I do believe the real world conditions have improved to make the blanket assumption that such efforts will fail as unwise.

A big part of this is that while we can simplify the argument to "robot first" or "robots helping people" it really isn't that simple. There are many reasons why today the conditions are different than they have been. Technological and software improvements are a big part of that. But also there is more thoughtful consideration of the advantages Toyota's management philosophy brings. Sadly not enough, but still companies are better today at thinking and acting as if their employees have brains than they were 30 years ago. Granted there is still a long way to go, but still progress has been made it seems to me at the macro level.

Related: GMs huge investment in robotics in the 1980s ($billions) has been an example of how pinning hopes on technology often doesn’t produce the desired results. - Toyota Develops Thought-controlled Wheelchair - Two resources, largely untapped in American organizations, are potential information and employee creativity.