Flintstoning

The Urban Dictionary has come up with another cracker:

Flintstoning, n the act of moving your chair with your feet, without getting out of it.

I also found another interesting twist on the same idea from the Cambrian House website:

Flintstoning, n using humans behind the scenes to do back end product fulfilment avoiding the premature automation of a process.

Automation is critical to achieving scale (see: Let the server run the business).

But, I think it’s probably also true that you can automate a process too soon – that is before you really understand the exceptions, how the process is actually used by customers and how to implement it efficiently.

2 thoughts on “Flintstoning”

  1. “Automation is critical to achieving scale” – a very dangerous and seriously flawed assumption, especially when dealing with physical goods and human interactions. It leads you into complex automation of complex processes. Try to automate everything, and the complexity is often some combination of unbuildable, unreliable, unresponsive, or inflexible.

    “Lean thinking” says only automate if there are very clear benefits of doing so, if the process is very robust, and if you are absolutely certain that flexibility is not lost. Simple focused automation using a flexible building block approach seems to work better. Best example – Toyota, which is the least automated yet most efficient car manufacturer, with the highest ex-factory reliability.

    The way application families are emerging now suggests the same is true even in information systems.

  2. We always used to use the term Kit Kat – usually web forms filled in that ended up in someone’s in tray that they might (or might not) get around to.

    Flintstoning is a much better term – better mental picture of what really happens!

    My experience of this is not a debate about whether to automate or not but more to have the discipline to review your processes regularly to make sure that you are operating as efficiently as possible. I’ve seen too many situations where the Day 1 process was never automated but was also never reviewed to see how it coped with scale.

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