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Kraftwerk The Man Machine

The Man Machine

A discussion with a Customer this morning about counting and collecting cash got me thinking about our role, as humans, interfering with and hampering the process of good business. I've concluded we're not quite as good at business as we think we probably are.

The fly in the ointment

In business, and in life generally, we like it when things run smoothly. We don't like it when a barista spells our name incorrectly, spills our coffee or doesn't make it just the way we like it. We're only human, after all; when it comes to commercial interactions and business processes, we are links in a chain, steps in a process and we don't like it one bit.

During a site visit with a Customer this morning we began looking at cashiers' performance around cash counting and declaration. Daily banking for our Customer was becoming a problem because the Financial Controller was being passed float counts that were wrong, poorly calculated daily takings, bank notes which weren't faced and coins which weren't bagged considerately. The problem was a human one. As we began to discuss and implement process improvements, I found that the music of Kraftwerk had begun floating through my head.

We are the robots...

I 😍 Kraftwerk. Universally recognized as the pioneers of electronic music, they began making electronic music in 1969. Their look was influenced by Germany's Bauhaus that saw art as inseparable from everyday function. Kraftwerk's body of work remains as fresh and visionary as the day of release. Their music celebrates modernism but manages to engineer a sense of human obsolescence brought about by introduction of technology. Prophetic and hopelessly beautiful, Kraftwerk are the face of the automaton, the voice heralding the rise of the robots, the sense of potential loss as you realise what it is to lose our humanity - to be all about process and less about persona - The Man Machine.

To err is human

The human condition is a lifelong struggle for the expression of individuality and this means that business processes, which should run smoothly, never do because we humans introduce way too much variability. We're not really designed for unquestioning repetition and that's why robots and algorithms are taking-over the jobs which you try to do but are useless and non-productive at. Productivity, efficiency and scalability are the cornerstones of business process - whether that process is the mass manufacture of cars, the transfer of HTML across the Web or the counting and transfer of cash.

Manners maketh man

A robot operating within a business process will pick-up a known quantity of 'stuff' from a pre-agreed location, do something with what it picked-up and then put the 'stuff' down in a known and pre-agreed location. It can and will repeat this operation ceaselessly and, generally, without error or interruption. The process improvements I put in place for our Customer's cashiers this morning were all about standardising what they do so that the person tasked with picking-up what they put-down doesn't waste time or effort. In essence, it's just a case of good manners in business and respecting the time of others working for a common purpose.

Kraftwerk don't come from the same school of thought as the luddite. The German pioneers of electronic music, who designed and developed their own electronic instruments, willingly pursued technology as a conscious component of the man machine. Kraftwerk regard art as being inseparable from everyday function - no matter how revolutionary their creative processes for making music are, they still have to conform to the standards which exist to promote and perform their output. There are times for cherishing individuality in the creative and business sectors but, when it comes down to cash handling, music broadcast or business process integration, it's the time for harmony, accord and standardisation.

View source...

I know you won't like the thought of considering, for just a moment, the HTML code from and upon which your website is built. If you dare, for just one second, take a peek at it by selecting the View Source... option from your desktop or laptop computer's menubar (you'll find it at the top of your display screen). This HTML is the stuff that we web designers leave behind and expect web browsers, software robots and search engine crawlers to pick-up.

Now, putting business process efficiency to one side for just a second, surely if it's simply good manners to ensure that, when we're working as part of the man machine that is the Worldwide Web, the 'stuff' we as web designers leave behind is in a format that the next human or robot in the process can easily pick-up then the websites that are built from poor HTML are not only incredibly rude and disrespectful of the time of others but are also hopelessly inefficient. Manners maketh the man machine.

Here at Sub@omic we take an incredible amount of pride in the HTML code we write and from which we build websites, emailers and eBooks. We describe the websites we design and develop as being quick to load, easy to navigate and standards compliant or, to put it another way, cognitive. Because all our code is written carefully, thoughtfully and individually by hand (and not spat out by some CMS such as Wordpress), we can ensure that our websites remain high quality, high performance and high ranking business assets which may be browsed on any device and are, on average, 5x faster and smaller when compared to websites built in a less considerate manner.

Never forget that Google is a robot made out of little else but pure maths and algorithmic thought. Just like every other robot on the planet, Google expects to be able to pick-up and understand the 'stuff' you put-down and leave for it to pick-up and work with. Therefore, it's the height of rudeness if you, or your web designer, does a sloppy job of writing the HTML code which Google has elected to work with.

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