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Autonomation was originally written about by Taiichi Ohno where he discussed “automation with a human touch.”  This is a far different than the “let’s automate something because we have the technology to do it” approach. 

Unfortunately, while doing bank management consulting I observe poorly designed systems where technology has been layered on top of the system.  This leads to entrapping technology that locks in the waste of the design of the work.

Most of these designs were based on the functional separation of work and a mentality that includes eliminating people to reduce costs.  My observation has been that many banks reduced two tellers, but increased their technology spend by $200,000 annually.  The design of the work was at issue, not the teller or the technology.

More than one bank talked about how they had been able to centralize their operations into a back office in another  location through the power of technology.  But none were able to show me that this move had actually made things less expensive through this thinking.  Pride (of technology) was more important than practicality.

We don’t have fewer tellers or back office functions in banking because of this thinking.  Had banks taken Ohno’s advice to “automate with a human touch” technology may have a different and better role in banking or the service industry in general.  Instead, old assumptions about what makes a bank efficient are perpetuated.

Technology has its place in our world and can make our work easier and more productive, but we are in dire need of understanding that technology is to support people and not replace them.  This thinking will lead to better use of technology and workers.

Leave me a comment. . . share your opinion!  Click on comments below.

Make the new decade a profitable and rewarding one, start a new path here.  Download free from www.newsystemsthinking.com “Understanding Your Organization as a System” and gain knowledge of systems thinking or contact us about how to get started at [email protected].  Reach him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/TriBabbittor LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/trippbabbitt.

Tripp Babbitt is a columist (Quality Digest and IQPC), speaker, and consultant to private and public service industry.  

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