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Adam West on the shop floor using the my-CI app Go Look See feature

Digital Engagement Centres

February, 03 2023

Digital Engagement Centres - am I trading in my Lean principles here?


Client: Digital Engagement Centres, nothing less will do. We are in the age of Industry 4.0, digital transformation, AI, the internet of things.  Data gets collected, bundled, packaged, shared and stored.  Its analysed, regurgitated, formulated and returned.  I make decisions on predictive data.  I buy from my supply chain based on given data with trends and projections as we plug into this new world of digital data access.  Then you come along, Radders, and make my supervisors pick up a pen and colour in lines.  They have tablets!


ME: Big sigh - I prefer saying it in French - 'grand soupir'.  Can you see me shrugging my shoulders as you read this?


Well, its really hard to argue for the old school.  To push the 'power of the pen' over digital.  I used to have a red line on this.  I was a categorical pen and paper advocate.  I argue that our coaching value came with the act of taking a blank A3 to generate a PPS on the floor or a mucky kaizen sheet covered in greasy fingerprints was far better for the interaction.  I can smell the machine shop as I type this.


CLIENT: It's time for you to change, Radders.


Then came the killer.


CLIENT: You run a software company offering digital standards.  Get off your horse! Build me Digital Engagement Centres.


ME: Grand, grand soupir.


So, am I trading in my Lean principles?

I suppose my immediate aversion to digital has come from very clumsy efforts to digitise aspects that should be left well alone, and that viewpoint extended to the Engagement Centre... before.  But let me just expand on the clumsy efforts first.


I have seen some disheartening portals for problem solving.  Just awful digital straightjackets set up in software systems for operations that offer little chance of ever reaching the root cause.  Character limitations on the Problem Statement!  WHAAAT!?

Or the 8D that must be submitted in one sitting with no room for an Ishikawa diagram!  WHAAAT!? 

An ideas suggestion portal that can only be reached on the supervisors desktop back in the office with access limited to Tier 2 management and above.  WHAAAT!? 

Or an Engagement Centre being run on a 32" screen with scrolling KPIs and no ability to interact.  This is what has been boiling my blood for the last 15 years.  If that's Industry 4.0 for my domain, then I'm not interested.  In the early days, running workshops where I would butt up against these stupid, ill-thought-through systems designed by some IT muppet, I would bark: who designed these stupid, ill-thought-through systems? Some IT Muppet?  It wasn't great for business. 


But I really feel that oftentimes we haven't enabled anything by digitising.  In fact, we've dumbed it down, completely lost sight of the goal.  We are losing our critical thinking as we rush to digitise.  One business has to submit their RCAs within 4 hours for review on the portal. WHAAAAT!? How can anyone seriously believe one can reach root cause in less than 4 hours every time if anytime?  To quote McEnroe: You cannot be serious?!


My last rant, I promise.  I had to run an on-site workshop for Value Stream Mapping.  I was informed we were set up to run the event using a desktop application and projector.  I felt nauseous.  I was looking for my horse, yes, the horse called High. I'm sure the first three hours with me facilitating was a joy. But luckily for me and my serotonin the projector blew a bulb and we ended up in old school mode.  Such fun when you get to show delegates how to peel a post-it and have it lie permanently flat on the wall.  Awesom-noss-ity all round.


So what about Digital Engagement Centres then?

I read somewhere that when you are no longer willing to listen, when you believe your collected wisdom is enough, you are no longer learning. And when you are no longer learning you are just a barrier to progress when you could be a worthy contributor. And you may as well find a café to read your favourite newspaper reinforcing your own views and shout at the pigeons... and the youth.  So we hired some youth.  Actually, better described as young jets, who spend their time thoroughly enjoying the art of  smashing my paradigms. I still shout at pigeons but am learning from the youth.  Through gritted teeth.


So we gave them the challenge.  Replace the power of the pen without losing the power of the pen.  Make the supervisor's job easier.  And start with engagement centres.  Make the digital wall somewhere that the team will engage as if they had a pen in their hand.


I'll be posting more on this and the development of the digital engagement centres along with the role of the supervisor in the world of Industry 4.0.  I cannot guarantee that I won't be ranty.  


In the video below, you'll see Adam talking through how we use the Go Look See functionality in our app, my-CI  to provide feedback to a digital Engagement Centre, focussing on the Safety Pillar.  The digital wall itself, it's set up and behaviours will follow in another post.


In the meantime, my horse is for hire.


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