Developing Clarity by Creating Technology

by
Joseph J. Lacroix


Technology is a set of instructions with a unique language for accomplishing something specific reliably each time that something is done. This is not a mystery, nor is it confined to a lofty highly scientific purpose. "Technology companies" are often in the news and touted as special leading edge organizations. That may be true, but all organizations evolve through a technology development cycle. I have a wife and a dishwasher in my home. If you have a partner and a dishwasher, you have a perfect illustration of technology development too.

Early in our marriage, for reasons not thought about at the time, my wife was in charge of loading the dishwasher. But when our first child was born, I took over that responsibility and have had that chore ever since. There is a technology about dishwasher loading that has become humorous, and has occasionally plagued our family after-dinner happiness ever since. We both load the dishwasher differently. Although there is one right way to do it, she's never agreed that my way is more efficient and effective. This is called a "technological debate."

To be most effective every organization must develop its own technology to achieve its unique purpose. Some technology can be purchased or leased, but the core technology of any organization is best developed internally. Franchised fast food restaurants each have a unique technology to deliver their brand of product and service combinations to their customers. These companies sell or lease these technologies to their franchise stores - in fact, that reliable process is really at the heart of what the local store operator is buying. In the creation of these technologies the developers have created matchless clarity. If you're not doing it, you're missing an opportunity of a lifetime.

A global certification process through International Standards Organization (ISO) is trying to make sure that the organizations receiving their certification simply have developed clarity around their core processes and are following that technology to produce reliable results. This is a good thing to be doing. Creating technology that clarifies is a good thing regardless of the potential certification that may result. This has everything in the world to do with you and your work, and potentially for your whole organization. Here's why.

Developing clarity by creating technology is a gateway to innovation because it removes accidental results from the success formula. That formula can apply to the whole organization and that would be great. But if you and those with whom you work regularly can agree on how to achieve success through every mutual encounter, you'll always be in demand. Most people just don't make the effort to excel, really excel, in their work in this way. Here's how you can do it today using a simple four-step process.


Pick the Most Important Piece of Work:

Focus yields more progress than a wide field. The first step in developing your own technology is to select the most important function within the work that you do. This may be something that isn't going as well as you'd like it to go, but at first, it ought not to be the hardest thing you could possible tackle. In our family after dinner work, for example, the difficult parts have changed over the years. Currently, the hardest part is the clean-up, just getting everyone to bring their dishes to the sink area and clean off the table by putting everything away or back where it belongs. So, that's the latest focus after our evening meals. When this gets to the point that its operating smoothly, something else will come along, believe me.


Identify Major Glumps:

For those who may not know, a glump is a group of things or activities that appear to belong together and so are treated together. Glumping is your friend. It allows you to manage the technology creation in reasonable pieces that are related to each other. Continuing with our example of after dinner clean-up, the major glumps might be: Trashing (throwing things away), Dish and Utensil Moving (moving things to the sink area that will need washing), Returning to Store (Putting things back in the cupboards and refrigerator), and Resetting (returning the table to a condition where it can be used for other things).


Sequence Activities and Decisions:

All elements within a glump can be set to an intentional sequence to assure everything that needs to get done will get done, on time, and to standard. To simplify, these sequences, there are two decisions that must always be included. The first decision is: "Do we know what we're trying to accomplish by doing this?" If that's not clear, the technology is not complete. If those who are expected to implement these activities and decisions do not understand them, stop and seek clarity. Pay attention to what is happening when things go wrong. Avoid "who" is doing it wrong, and pay attention to "what" is going wrong! Fix the problem not the blame.

The last decision must be: "Have we done what we set out to do?" If the answer is, "Yes," stop working. If the answer is, "no" continue to strike clarity in the technology you are developing.

There will be activities between these two decisions, and there may even be more decisions within the activities. Returning to our "Clean-up" example, Trashing may be done by one person for the whole table, or it may be done by each person taking care of their own trash (this has been our family choice). Each person makes an independent decision at the end, but one person has the whole glump to oversee. Oddly enough, that overseer position seems to shift around the table - someone always seems to emerge. The process takes on an air of self-governance after awhile - it's mutual clarity that allows this to happen.


Examine and Improve Continuously:

A final step is to assure that a mechanism exists to continuously improve the technology. There must be a way to make sure that overall outcomes are well synchronized within glumps, and between glumps. When metrics are added, the system works at peak performance. Apart from on-the-spot detection and corrective actions, there ought to be a way for broader, more sweeping observations.

At work such topics are on the table at staff or team meetings, at home we have irregular family meetings. Regardless of the label we use, people must seek an adequate forum for continuous improvement in their lives. It cannot be something we do only at work and only because we have to do it. It must become something we desire to do because it improves the human condition and thereby the quality of our lives.


Conclusion:

Creating technology is neither mysterious nor is it the exclusive domain of advanced scientific minds. Technology is developed to pressure fry chicken around the world with reliable results as well as conduct after dinner rituals in the kitchens of citizens of planet earth for those of us fortunate enough to have a kitchen. Optimizing the creation of technology means that we'd document it, follow what we've documented, and always be open to improving it.

Whole organizations need to go through a technology creation process and that would be good for everyone. Of equal importance, individuals who work together can and ought to improve the quality of their working relationship by developing clarity through the creation of technology together. Such a clarifying effort is in the best interests of the individuals concerned and to the ultimate benefit of the organizations that engage them as well as their customers. This is not a difficult task. Get on with it.


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Word Count: 1,285

Copyright 1998 Leadagement Technologies, Inc.
(757) 886-9386

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Copyright 1998 Leadagement Technologies, Inc. - All rights reserved.
(757) 886-9386
Reviewed: 12/98 as "www.ltodi.com/Literature-Developing_Clarity_by_Creating_Technology.htm"