Computers are weird

Computers are weird.

People sit with both open hands held next to each other in front of their body, their palms down. Fingers wiggling.

They call this work.

They call it work cos they’re at work, and that’s where they go to work. At computers.

Today all around me people, proper intelligent people, sat at computers, fingers wiggling. All day, with breaks for tea, lunch, bits of chats and such. 

I know computers are great. I’m finger wiggling at one to type this. But work is not whatever happens at work. If you think this then finger wiggling at a computer becomes work. Rather than solving problems and helping people, work is defined as whatever you do at work.

This is why purpose is vital. A line of sight between what you do when you walk in the door, and somebody helped because of that

If you can’t see this, it’s probably not there, and you’re just sitting finger wiggling at a computer.

This is not cynical. Cynical is sitting finger wiggling and convincing yourself that it’s work cos people tell you it is, and cos it’s easier than finding a customer and seeing if they need any help.

Most activity at work happens without any beneficial effect on a customer. It goes down without touching the sides. I spent all day today re-formatting a report, full of the wrong measures, measured the wrong way, so that it could be printed easier and it would look nicer. A perfectly benign activity that helps nobody. In the thinking of lean, or Vanguard Method, or Deming, or indeed any sane point of view, this is 100% waste and therefore shouldn’t happen at all. Just stop it.

Waste can easily hide itself if it looks like finger wiggling at a computer. Especially if it looks like finger wiggling at a computer. There’s nothing inherently wrong with a computer, but there is something inherently wrong with finger wiggling at it for no good reason.

Computers are weird, but people are weirder.

This entry was posted in clarity of purpose, command and control, purpose, systems thinking, vanguard method and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Computers are weird

  1. Why should we be surprised? Computers are made, designed and configured by people so that makes weird computers!


  2. Stu says:

    I thought computers were making other computers these days. #skynet


  3. See, we are living in a world where information is power and it is a knowledge economy. Computers are the means to enter, store and transmit this information. But how much is effective and how much is a waste is a big question mark. I agree with you, when you said that we need to know our purpose of our work. When we have that line of sight then work is not about wiggling the hands on a computer. Nice article. I liked reading it. I will read others as well. Thank you. Cheers, Ramkumar


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