Let’s Keep It Simple–Dickeson

Hey, it’s the system suppliers, isn’t it?

“No way,” they shout. “We’ve given you exactly what you asked for. Our computer systems and programs work just as they’re supposed to work. It’s your fault if you don’t keep the systems complete and reconciled as we, and your Wally Stettinius, told you to do. Garbage in, garbage out.”

No. It’s us. The moving finger now points at us. We asked for it.

“But we’re busy getting jobs out the door,” we scream back just as loudly. “We can’t spend all of our time keeping your magic systems updated. We’re printers, not statisticians and computer geeks. You didn’t tell us about the constant care of the system and the errors in specs.”

Nobody wins the blame contest. We spec’ed out the MIS framework before we’d ever heard of Deming, Shewhart, Wheeler, Goldratt, Ohno, Chaos Theory and all that stuff. Mandelbrodt hadn’t yet mentioned the non-linearity of numbers. Both we, and our system suppliers, were doing the best we could with what we knew at the time.

We didn’t think about the fact that we mainly wanted the system for estimating—predicting costs—so we could price jobs. Now we know. We can’t predict. Can’t predict sales—job quantity, job mix and job timing. We just can’t predict job or form sequence in commercial printing. We can’t predict what customers will demand. We can’t forecast what hours will be chargeable and what hours won’t. We can’t predict the weather, the national or state deficits, unemployment or the stock market. What were we thinking about?

Because we didn’t know these things, we developed estimating/ pricing systems that seemed right at the time, but no longer are. Now we don’t trust numbers because we don’t trust ourselves. Some of us say things like, “I need that computer estimating system because it clues me on how my competitor will price.” Honestly? Isn’t that an oxymoron or something?

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