Tag Archives: soapbox

Automatons

In yet another workplace conversation, the subject of automation was brought up.? Specifically the automation of “production art” that is repeatedly requested.

See, I work for a 12,000+ company, which though not gigantic is quite large.? We have our own in house design team that handles everything from fully produced high quality training videos down to signs that will be posted on the bathroom directing people where to aim (okay that last one was made up, but we do work all the time that is just as mundane).? Several of the jobs we have on a daily basis are extremely repetitive, such as headline boards of a set font-size, color scheme, and height.? The only thing that changes is the width.? Another item is best described as portrait cards, which are essentially employee trading cards that can be Velcroed to a carpeted wall just as fast as the employees they represent enter and exit their new positions.? The latter scenario is what sparked the conversation.

Ever since I hired on, I saw the possibility of automating such tasks based on a user filled out form: [Who do you want a picture of],[What size do you need],[How many do you need],[When do you need them by]…I however haven’t had the time or green light to tackle it until now.? As I approach this I know we first need to standardize the way our portraits are captured so that I can in turn safely crop and scale down into the various requested sizes with some degree of consistency.? ENTER UNIONIZED PHOTOGRAPHER

I say unionized, not because this individual is a union member, but because he embodies the flaws I see in modern day unions and why they are dying.? This coworker, we will cal “Pat”, was adamant that we couldn’t introduce automation of current work because that would in turn be displacing work that is currently being done by another one of our coworkers.? I countered that yes, that is exactly right, but that our coworker would then be freed up from this mindless drudgery to do more sophisticated and higher value work at no additional cost to the company, thereby increasing the perceived and real value of our Creative Group to the corporation as a whole.? I was and still am baffled that he would stand in the way of such a legitimate innovation.? Thankfully my manager has the foresight to see what is coming and what is demanded of us, that he supported the effort and we are moving forward.? In a stream, stagnation only breeds fungus, algae, and decay, but movement, though it will change the historical path of the stream, will provide fresher, cleaner waters for use to all downstream.