Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Technology - ain't in wonderful!

Some of you recently received an email from me that announced my email address had changed. A friend, who I am guessing has dealt with a few technology snafus himself, sent an email back to test my new email address. In it he included a tongue in cheek response - "Technology - ain't it wonderful!" Well, yes it is - when it works!

But when it doesn't it can be frustrating and tempts individuals who are technology challenged to become tech-nots. Tech-nots are individuals who do not have computers, cell phones, GPS units, cable TV, Blue Ray players, I-pads, Kindles, digital cameras, I-pods, or any of the household appliances that illuminate your house in the middle of the night, like it is a sunny day, due to their digital clocks and indicator lights in a variety of reds, blues and yellows. Night lights are becoming as obsolete as buggy whips. In the near future we will not have to decorate our homes with Christmas lights - our homes will be permanently decorated with the LED displays on all of our electronics!

I am not a tech-not and actually enjoy the challenge of figuring out technology problems. As a consultant who works from a home office I am also the IT department for the business and I find it rewarding when I finally find "the fix." I treat technology problems like video games - they are puzzles to be solved. My recent technology challenge began with my decision to upgrade my 2-1/2 year old I-Phone. I wanted the increased speed the 4G network promised along with the improved I-Phone 4S features like an 8 megapixel camera. I simply stopped at a local Best-Buy, made my purchase and headed home to play with my new toy. When I attempted to set up the mail feature to send and receive my AOL mail I repeatedly received a message stating that my username or password was incorrect. On my desk at that very moment were a laptop and an I-Pad that were using the same username and password so I questioned the validity of the error message. Instinctively I did what everyone with the exception of the tech-nots do - I went to Google to find a solution to my problem. To my surprise I found out I was not alone. This was a systemic problem that I was not going to fix. My next step was to call AOL to talk with someone. I quickly found out this is impossible unless you pay a monthly fee for their support plan. They had spent more time and money designing a phone system that blocked every attempt I made to talk with a real person than they had on providing customer support. In the end my only choice was to send AOL an email to which they promised to respond within 24 hours.

Their response, typo included, was:
"We would like to inform you that this is a known issue and to set proper expectations there is no definite time frame for this to be resolve but rest assured that our Level 2 technical support team is currently investigating this matter."

Well to be honest I was not about to "rest assured" for some of the posts regarding this problem that I had read on the net said the best and maybe only solution was to quite using AOL. So I am. My new email address is If AOL had informed me a Level 1 team was not only investigating but working to fix the problem and had given me an expected resolution date I might have given them another chance. But no one, especially a customer, wants to hear that a supplier has no idea when and if their problem will be resolved. When suppliers respond as AOL did to me it drives customers to take action to rid themselves of that supplier - no matter how painful. I have spent at least one work day updating anything and everything that had my AOL email address associated with it and I know there is more work ahead.

The next time you are faced with a technology problem and you want to talk with someone about it remember that you can always contact me. I may not be able to fix it but odds are I have at some point already tried to fix the same problem and we will have fun sharing our frustrations. I share mine in blog posts. Blogging is therapeutic!

Speaking of fun I was recently in the UK to conduct a 2-day lean safety workshop for the Lean Manufacturing Journal. Day one of the workshop was held at an old Victorian manor house that had been converted into a hotel. My wife, Sandy, thought she was staying at Downton Abbey and insisted I call her Lady Sandy! On day two the workshop attendees had the opportunity to visit and tour a Rexam plant in Wakefield, UK. They produce around 3 million aluminum beverage cans per day and are doing a great job of using lean thinking to change their safety culture. For example they have conducted kaizen events that focus solely on safety improvement. It was a great 2-day event and I met many wonderful safety and operational professionals. I will be returning to the UK the last week in May to participate in the LMJ Lean Conference being held in Birmingham. Following the conference I will facilitate another 2-day Lean Safety workshop.

If you visit my website, blog, or Linked-In profile you will notice a new photograph of yours truly. I have friends and acquaintances that have photos on Linked-In that have to be 10-20 years old. The photo I replaced was about 5 years old and since I believe in truth in advertising I thought I should update it. A good friend, who is a skilled photographer, used only lighting, studio backdrops and her creative talent to enhance my appearance. Believe it or not no Photoshop tricks were used. I think she did a wonderful job considering what she had to work with!

I hope you all have a fun filled and safe summer. My consulting travel plans include Denver, Portland, Austin, New Zealand, Australia, China and other opportunities still in discussion. If I am headed to your neck of the woods let me know - it is always fun to reconnect with acquaintances while traveling. Stay safe.