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6 Steps to a Whole New Technical Organization

The start of a new year has people turning to diets, fitness, and self-improvement initiatives with the concept of a “whole new you” in the coming year. There are three types of people I see each year:

  • Consistent Carl – Carl has had the same diet and exercise plan his whole life. It hasn’t been as effective as he’s gotten older, but it’s all he knows.
  • Fad Francine – Francine watches all the latest infomercials and Instagram influencers. She’s constantly trying the latest and greatest fad diets and exercises. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t, but there’s never a lack of new methods to try.
  • Strategic Sam – Sam is strategic. She goes for a checkup once a year to ensure that she is running in tip-top shape. She adjusts her diet and exercise plan each year to target specific goals she is looking to achieve, and gets results.

These concepts should seem familiar. But how often do we think about “self-improvement” in our technical organization? Whether we are producing power or manufacturing products, we should spend some time considering how we can move better, faster, and more efficient in the New Year. With that in mind, here are my six technological organization steps to a achieving a whole new technical workplace.

To start, much like in our physical well-being, we need to address both diet and exercise to get results; the same applies to our technical facilities. Within our technical facilities we have very important assets that support our day-to-day work. These assets are not just the physical equipment, but also the people who operate it. As we look to improve in 2020 through technological organization, we will need to focus on both to drive results.

People Focused:

  • Technology Use: Your organization has likely made significant investments in the purchase of technology, but how much time did you invest in enterprise technology adoption? Don’t let your new technology be the pieces of gym equipment sitting in your basement unused. Spend some time in 2020 focusing on change management, user adoption, and training to ensure you are maximizing the technology investment in the future.
  • Organizational Analysis: Technology can often change what your organization looks like as well. We don’t like to talk about it, but technology can make humans redundant in some areas or may require enhanced skillsets. I often hear the phrase, “right people in the right places.” The year 2020 is a great time to look at developing an operational excellence approach across people, processes, and the plant to establish some short- and long-term goals for optimization and sustainability.
  • Workforce Optimization: You could have the best designed facility, with optimized processes and technology, and still have errors. It’s been stated that 80% of errors are human induced. Prepare your workforce with better plans for training and performance support to ensure they can effectively and safely operate your facility.

Equipment Focused:

  • Data Integrity: Much like the old adage “garbage in, garbage out,” how accurate and clean is your equipment data? Do you know what your most critical pieces of equipment are? This heightened attention on data can help you prioritize your investment and focus in 2020.
  • Asset Strategies: Not unlike your people, your equipment needs some “talent management” as well. Do you maintain your equipment on a consistent basis (think of your yearly training requirements)? Do you wait until a failure occurs before you maintain (think of your more urgent training updates)? Or do you simply run to failure and replace what’s broken when it fails? You can actually decrease your operational costs between 15% and 40% while capacity utilization improves by 5% to 10% by optimizing your asset strategies.
  • Root Cause: When an issue does occur in your organization, do you take the time to ask why? By conducting a proper root cause analysis, you can ensure that your corrective actions are solving the real issue so that in the future you might prevent the issue from reoccurring. Stop the guessing games and improve your overall equipment effectiveness with the rigor of root cause analysis.

Now, let’s think about those three types of people again … which one do you want to be in 2020?

  • Consistent Carl – Carl has run his business the same way for his entire career. He doesn’t always get the best results, but he is consistent in his approach.
  • Fad Francine – Francine jumps on all the latest buzzwords and implements them each year. Some of them work, some of them don’t. But she never has to worry; the New Year will always deliver new things to try.
  • Strategic Sam – Sam is strategic in how she runs her business. She conducts proper assessments, identifies her key challenges, and implements action plans to solve them.

As you enter 2020, I encourage you to be like Sam. Sam is strategic in how she goes after her goals and you should be too.

About the Authors

Sheri Weppel
Sheri Weppel started her career as an art teacher covered in finger paint, clearly teaching people about out-of-the-box thinking (or at least off-the-construction-paper thinking). While working on her master’s degree in Instructional Design and Development at Lehigh University, she realized that we could learn a lot from the public-school classroom. Concepts like micro-learning, learning styles, gaming, and training on demand were common in grade school, but were considered new concepts in the corporate sector. Because one degree is never enough, Sheri continued her studies at Lehigh with a focus on Gaming for Instruction. In her spare time, she spent her evenings losing to her husband in Scrabble and wanting to throw the letter Q across the room, making her realize the emotional attachments we can have to games. If we could harness that desire to succeed, compete, or win to a learning environment, what impact could we have on learner motivation? Countless games of Scrabble later, Sheri started at GP Strategies as an Instructional Designer and was able to inject those concepts into solutions for her customers. This is often a challenge for customers that want to use gaming but often don’t believe they have the time or budget required to successfully launch into the gaming space. Sheri is driven to help these clients find a balance in embedding gaming elements into instruction in a practical manner. In the past nine years, Sheri has held many roles within the organization, from instructional designer to sales lead for blended learning, and is now focusing on the off-the-shelf product GPiLEARN+, growing the product into a true blended learning solution. Regardless of her role, Sheri is always focused on working with customers to help build impactful training solutions that focus on the needs of all populations. She helps clients determine specifically when to incorporate gaming versus using hands-on, traditional approaches. When she is not working, Sheri enjoys having adventures with her dog Olivia, attending barre classes, and learning new three-letter words that begin with the letter Q.

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