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Don't Trust New Technology!

I received a very interesting e-mail this morning from one of my readers regarding yesterday’s post on policy deployment.

Here it is:

Jeff:

Have you started using some sort of speech-to-text software?  There are several grammar/syntax errors in today’s post—and that’s unusual.

As always, the post is full of good information.  Thanks for making it available.

SG

Guess what. SG was spot on with his assessment. I had just updated my Dragon NaturallySpeaking voice recognition software, and had tried to put it to use.

Why? I am a horrible typist. I type something like three words a minute and two usually have typos in them. So I’m always looking for something to help me type faster. I tried Dragon out several years back, but it just did not have the accuracy I needed. But with advances in technology, I decided to purchase the most current version of Dragon. In testing, I was pleased with the results.

Unfortunately, as I began to get further into my article yesterday, I started using more of a conversational tone and less of the dictational enunciation and cadence that is required to get a high degree of accuracy with Dragon NaturallySpeaking.

So I had to laugh when I saw SG’s e-mail. The grammar and syntax problems were obvious; I was just amazed that he could identify the exact root causes behind them.

There are two contributing factors to the completely unacceptable level of quality I released yesterday.

The first was that I was trying the new software out. While voice recognition software has been out for quite a while, it is probably still not at the level I need as an author—at least not with the current processes I have been using. The lesson: Only use proven technology in your process improvement efforts. And if you do decide to jump the gun a little, make sure you build some bulletproof processes around the unproven technology.

The second factor is that I am facing a few deadlines right now with product releases and consulting client work. It is probably not the best time to dabble with new software. The extra time I spent trying to get the software to work properly chewed up a lot of the time I normally reserve for editing. And if you read my Lean term that I released yesterday, you would have seen the results. (I have since spent a bit of time cleaning it up to raise the quality standard a bit.) The lesson: It is important to do continuous improvement regularly, but that does not mean you have to work on projects when you’re swamped. (Exception: If you are always swamped, you don’t really have a choice.)

There’s an old expression about failing and then failing better. I’m not quite ready to give up on voice recognition software yet. Today’s article was written, or more accurately spoken, with the same equipment and software that I used yesterday, but with some different editing processes. In fact I did not type a single word today.

So, SG…be honest… Were you able to tell that I used the same speech to text software today?

 

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5 Comments

  • Jeff,

    Interesting. Using only proven technology is one of Toyota’s principles. It probably doesn’t hurt to do some testing in your office but we don’t want to be bringing machines with serial number 1 into a critical manufacturing plant. I’ve seen several of these and none had satisfactory results.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Chris

    • Jeff Hajek says:

      Chris,

      I was thinking of The Toyota Way as I wrote the article. I think people get so enamored with new and pretty that they rush out to get it.

      Sometimes it can be a challenge to exhibit restraint when the new technology is expected to cure a problem that you haven’t been able to PDCA to death. I certainly see the appeal, but urge people to let others work out the bugs for you.

      Thanks again for commenting, and for puttting my guest post up on your site.
      http://christianpaulsen62.wordpress.com/2011/08/10/4-lean-lessons-from-bogus-news/

      Jeff

      • Jeff,

        I figured you had The Toyota Way in mind. I was reminded of another example just this morning. One of my clients has a new portioner that is one of a kind. The owner of the manufacturer is flying in soon to see it and determine if he wants to make any more. The client commented that there are a lot of problems to work out before they make any more.

        You are certainly welcome. It was my pleasure to have your work posted at Lean Leadership. By the way, are you saying that having an Apple laptop doesn’t make me smarter than all those PC users? I thought that was one of the reasons to buy it 🙂

        Have a good weekend.

        Chris

  • SG says:

    Jeff:

    I would have said that you didn’t use the voice recognition software. I read today’s post just as I read yesterday’s; I didn’t attempt to proof it.

    I think it’s safe to say that you’ve improved your process.

    SG

    • Jeff Hajek says:

      SG,

      It takes a close eye to monitor what I am saying, and it is about a wash right now in terms of time. But I fully expect that as I improve my process and learn more of the software’s capability, it will end up being better.

      Thanks again for the email that got this conversation going.

      Jeff

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