Systems and Automation are Different

I think Inc. told Joel Spolsky to dummy it down for us regular folk. I’ve been reading his articles for a while now, and he’s become a man of the people.

Joel is tackling the mainstream. Stephen Hawking received some good advice from one his editors: “an editor warned him that for every equation in the book the readership would be halved, hence it includes only a single equation E = mc2.”

In Joels article: “How Hard Could It Be?: Good System, Bad System“, I think the point of this article is that a system is there to handle 90% and the other 10% is the human interaction. If you lose that 10%, you’ve failed the customer.

Starbucks probably borrowed the order-taker-in-line concept from another business. Portillos’ fast food company does this in Illinois. They figured if people give their order, you can start it right away so it’s ready when they get to the window and they are less likely to get out of line, while they’re waiting in the drive thru. Portillos also realized that beyond a certain point, they didn’t have a cement curb to force people to stay in line.

The mistake Starbucks is making is that they’ve created way too many layers between the customer and the CEO. Maybe they’ve gotten too big and it’s time to start franchising. This may be a lateral move, but franchising works so well when there is an owner on site.

I also think there is a point to be made: Systems do not equal automation. The system is the methodology. Automation is making something faster by eliminating extra processes.

So make your system first and then automate. If you build your system around your automation, the system will be harmed.

by admin

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