Going “Old School”

Going “Old School”

Technology is continually making its way into our lives, both at home and in our jobs. And with two teenagers at home, they are constantly challenging my ways of thinking on this issue.

While I understand the intent of technology is to save time/money, as well as provide consistency and convenience, I have noticed in some cases that technology is reducing the human element of our lives, effectively making us robots. After all, why would you need to think on your feet when you can just reach for your smart phone?

Not long ago, I purchased five pairs of jeans under a BOGO (50% off) sale. Yeah – you might wonder why I purchased only 5 and not 6 pairs? In my defence, the jeans were for a family member, and I knew that at some point, after all was said and done, I would be returning 3 pairs of the jeans.

Once we picked the two pairs, I made my way back to the store to return the unwanted 3 pairs. I did some quick math in my head – expecting to return two pairs at full price and 1 pair at half price, as the BOGO deal would allow. The assistant manager did her thing at the till and gave me the receipt. But after looking over the receipt I noticed there was an error – she returned one pair at full price and two pairs at half price.

The conversation that followed was an eye opener! Not only did the assistant manager not know how to interpret the BOGO deal and apply it to my return, there was difficulty working with the retail software to process the return. In this situation, the retail software has become the applied technology that helps the store manage the money and inventory – effectively removing the need for the staff to think through the process.

In effect, the 5 items purchased under the BOGO promotion challenged both the software programming and the assistant manager. And because the software system was in charge of the transaction, there was no thinking involved in developing a solution for me.

More relevant to our industry, I had a similar event happen recently at work – that ended in a completely different solution. I was attending a press check for new designs that we had asked to be applied to a presentation folder.

As we all know, manufacturing is all about efficiency of processes and machines. During the press check, we experienced an issue on press because of our design file. The most obvious options were to print the job without solving the issue, or to stop the press and wait for a new set of plates to be ripped. Obviously, neither of these options were very appealing – in an industry where time is money, a decision needed to made quickly.

The technology solution would have been to default to a new set of plates, at the cost of several hundreds of additional dollars. Fortunately, the pressman was a true “old school” craftsman, and he was able able to develop a satisfactory (alternate) solution that required a steady hand, loop and an exacto knife. No technology required – just experience, skill and the ability to think on your feet!

There was no way to punch that solution into the smartphone, or the cash register, to get an answer.