Here at work we have a bunch of different cafeteria’s that you can go to.  – Currently our cafeteria is under construction.  We moved in to this building a couple of weeks ago and then after we moved in, they decided to update the cafeteria… shouldn’t they have done that before we moved in? –  But, I digress.  One of the busiest cafeterias here has an “automated” ordering process.  Let me explain.  When you go to most of the cafeteria’s around here, you walk to the counter, tell a person what you want, and they give it to you.  Then you walk to the cashiers and pay them many monies.  They ask if you want a receipt, tell you to have a nice day and that is that.

In the automated cafeteria you walk up to the ordering screen, spend a few moments going through the options, spend a few moments backing up because you pressed a wrong button.  Wait for the system to catch up with you.  Try and get the attention of someone cooking to ask how you special order onion rings instead of fries.  Get advised that you need to place your order and then tell the cook after, that you would like to sub the fries with onion rings. Swipe your card, swipe your card again because you put it in backwards, swipe it again because you swiped to fast, pay your monies.  And then wait for them to start making your food.  Then they call your number and as you look in your bag your realize they gave you fries instead of onion rings because the cook you told wasn’t the one who read the order receipt and he had other things on his mind that took precedence over your snooty onion rings.  So you go back and say, “hey, I uh.. I ordered onions rings” and they give you this look like.  “Shut up you stupid head” and you spend the rest of your meal eating onion rings covered in tears.

The point is this.  Automation works better if

  1. Everyone completely understands the process and can move through it comfortabley
  2. There is no one involved accept the automation process

So just because we can streamline the process doesn’t necessarily mean it is faster, or better.  As if my onion rings needed more salt.