Sometimes I feel sorry for paper. What did paper do to us to make us hate it so much? If you don’t believe me on the level of hatred, then test it yourself. Tell people in your office that filing cabinets are going away. Then brace yourself for the joy and unicorns and butterflies and dancing. (And/Or) Ask people the last time they got a paper cut. You will get details of the horrific incident that saw the hero, with the odds stacked against them to survive and by sheer will and gutty determination pull themselves from the brink of death and certain infection TO LIFE… oh… sorry, maybe that’s a little over the top. However, I will guarantee you, that if asked about paper cuts, someone will be able to tell you a story that could be 10 – 15 years old.
(More about paper) I was on a flight and sat beside an executive for Office Max. This was about 6 years ago. I told him what I did. Back then I didn’t use the word “automation” as much as the words “going paperless”. I asked him if he was worried about all of the paperless projects in the market (trying to sound all business-like) and he said that every time a new “paperless fad” came out his company’s paper sales went up. The bubble side of me (that is the world that I live in and refuse to believe that anything else is going on outside of that world – we all have one – don’t deny it) thinks that there is no way that his paper sales can go up. However, the non-bubble world of me thinks this could be possible… as paperless as I want the world to be, the reality is that there is still a lot of paper out there.
I found some number from a 2010 survey that asked 300 executives from Fortune 1000 companies about being paperless. (source).
- 38 % are already paperless
- 29 % are transitioning to paperless operations
- 15 % plan on going paperless in the near term
I love the quote from Mark Twain… “There are lies, damn lies and statistics”. If we use the numbers above and put a timeframe to the 15%, the lie and the damn lie from this survey are that 82% of the companies polled are actually paperless! I don’t think so! (that’s right blog controversy).
Here is a little personal experience. Over the past 13 years as an automater, I have asked people if there is a need, desire, plan or corporate mandate to automate. On a consistent occasion the answer will come back, “we are already automated”. Then I say, “my definition of automation means there is no paper in your process. Do you have paper?” The answer always comes back, “Yea, we have tons of paper”.
There is so much unclear thinking about automation and getting rid of the paper. In both of my books, The 8 Pitfalls and The Argument to Automate, I started with a need and quest to insist that companies look internally before they seek to look externally for partners to automate. I have had conversations with folks where I was shocked to find out that when they automated they had to add staff to accommodate for the automation or the additional paper. It’s hard to believe, but it happens.
Want to know more?
Buy the book – The Argument to Automate – How Innovation Can INSPIRE Not Fire – click here to buy
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