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Going Low-Tech and High-Touch

December 5, 2013

I have seen this many many times: Transformation driven only by implementing new advanced software tools. These advanced software tools are supposed to add automation and increase productivity.

However, as time goes on, management also sees other effects: production costs are increased by these software tools, and business changes are more complex as these changes also require important changes to the tools themselves.

With these high-tech tools, there is also another effect: the effect on human beings. These tools eliminate personal interactions and employees become “administrative” working 8 hours in front of those tools instead of having real face-to-face interactions.

This, of course, has a negative impact on motivation and productivity (the one that was supposed to be increased).

Later, cost cuts and optimization plans are required, and this software tools need to be removed due to expenses and are changed by more artisan stype tools (i.e. manual).

In Agile and Lean Management, high-performance software teams, who would have no problem implement production processes over a software tool, prefer working with low-tech and high-touch tools. Why is this?

If we want to make our interactions and meetings special, we need tools that really give us a more tangible and “hands-on” feeling with the work that is ahead.

Remember, what really matters is people and processes. Automation only helps to execute things faster. But if we are doing something wrong in our processes with automation, we will also do it worst.

Processes need to be defined, implemented and executed. Only when we now that they are working correctly can we start to think about implement tools for supporting them.

But, many times this done to the contrary. Firstly, a tool is chosen, and then all the people need to change in order to adapt to that tool.

Trust me – things don’t work this way. If the objective is to improve employee productivity, people should be placed higher than tools (i.e. processes over tools).


Do you use Low-Tech High-Touch tools?