The Road to Automation

My main focus in life is to find head space for people and teams and organisations. I honestly believe that there is so much white noise in our lives that we struggle to find time to think and thus to innovate and grow.  The goal is to lower the cognitive load of the “day to day” activities that a team needs to complete, to free up the much needed brain space to focus on growth and innovation.

To me the secret is to organise, create standard work, and then to automate as much as possible. However I find that teams struggle to find the way towards automation – so here is my roadmap and rationale.

The path is quite simple:

Mystery -> Heuristic -> Pattern -> Algorithm -> Script

This means that what was a mystery, unknown or a Cynefin “Chaos” state can move (via knowledge growth/exploration) to become a Heuristic, or known or knowable paradigm. Once known it can then be decomposed into elements and then recomposed into a structured sequence or algorithm. Once the sequence of algorithm is identified then the activities and elements can be literally codified into scripts. These scripts can be either IT related (e.g. automated scripts) or behaviour related (e.g. drills or habits).

Each of the stages have certain characteristics and mindsets associated with them. I’ve captured these below:

AutomationStructure

So how does this translate into head space? Well the time spent on task rapidly diminishes when automation grows, this means that people have more time to spend thinking, learning, growing their knowledge (hanging in the “Mystery” space) rather than doing lots of repetitive and mundane keyboard tapping.

AutomatedTime

 

Even moving through the automation journey increases head space since knowledge transfer ability increases as the amount automated increases. This means that the skill levels required to achieve the outcome reduce, i.e. new team members or less skilled team members are able to perform the tasks. This means that they too are growing their knowledge, and skilled team members are able to continue to look at the next round of “mysteries”. I’ve overlayed this with the Dreyfus model for some context.

AutomatedDreyfus

So my focus on reducing white noise by producing repeatable activities helps teams become more able to focus on the learning and growing, exploring and changing parts of their work, rather than stay stuck in the day to day grind. By moving work patterns away from the high cognitive load of learning/exploring towards the low cognitive load of scripted/habitual activities teams can create the head space needed to grow and innovate.

 

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