GM My Job Could Be Done By A Machine

My Job Could Be Done By A Machine

You’ve heard me endorse Who Not How, the book by Dan Sullivan and Benjamin Hardy that encourages leaders to find better ways to delegate. I embrace it fully. I also subscribe to the theory that sometimes your checkbook is the most efficient tool in the handyman tool kit for home projects. Paying someone to do something that you don’t have the skills to do saves time and money. 

I’ll share some observations on the value of community engagement, and why touch labor has secondary benefits, no machine can capture.

More Than Ticket Scanning

This week, I performed a role I did not aspire to, and that could easily have been done by a machine. I was a volunteer scanning tickets at the 100th Sarasota County Fair. Picture the hand-held scanner sometimes used at Costco to move people through self-checkout faster. It took 2-3 minutes of training to learn how to restart the tool should it act up. I was a pro in 3 minutes.

Why, you might ask, was I doing this? The Navy League of Sarasota-Manatee County operates one of four gates for the duration of the fair in exchange for several thousand dollars that eventually fund annual JROTC scholarships and student field trips.

I thought it a high-labor activity for the nominal return, but the agreement had been made, so I did my part. A couple of 2–4-hour shifts and my part would be done.

After entrants walked up to a ticket booth to purchase tickets, they then came to me to have their QR code on paper scanned. I would then discard their paper ticket in a receptacle before they enter a security checkpoint. Read that again. I was performing a middle function that is done by a machine in many other settings and throwing away the evidence of the paper transaction used between the 1st and 2nd stop of the 3-step check-in.

The security check is a magnetometer and a lane with two sheriffs doing back checks when the magnetometer triggers. The sheriffs are friendly, experienced, and just intimidating enough.

The Value of Human Interaction

What did I see?

  • Some people come just for the fair food and leave carrying food out. Fried Oreos, fried pickles, fried butter (yes, for real), cotton candy, waffle cones, waffle fries, and more.
  • Teenagers continue to travel in packs.
  • Families with very young children want to give their kids fun experiences.
  • People carry a lot more cash around than I do.
  • The number and types of people packing heat would surprise many. One mother with a stroller was turned around to either put the gun back in the car or show her permit. Of note, there is a large sign on the entry fence that says no guns, knives, weapons, etc.
    • Watch out for diaper bags!
  • My colleague at check-in (from another service organization) was an avid Fox News fan ready to comment broadly on many topics with little ability to go to the second level of discussion. “I don’t know every detail, but I do know this for sure,” she said during several attempts at conversation during a lull.
  • The process issues all around me were maddening. As a consultant used to stepping into situations with an outsider’s view, it was hard not to notice the stacked inefficiencies that allowed long lines to form during the busiest times.
  • Over my shoulder, I heard the regular call of the pig races about to begin. Pigs of all sizes were named appropriately (Kevin Bacon, Oscar Myer, etc.) and cheered around the track for entertainment.
  • Goats like to be posted as high as they can, climbing whatever is required to stake out a better view of their penned-in situation.
  • Animals are popular and admired by all kids—the petting zoo, cows, horses, and more.
  • Some people dress up for the fair, some come in work clothes from whatever their job, and some don’t appear to give their wardrobe choice a lot of thought.

A Look Beyond the Routine

Although I work remotely, traveling from Florida to DC quite regularly, I effectively work in a bubble. Many of us do. We are creatures of habit, and we like our routines.

My community service took me outside my normal routine, and it was good to observe the community a bit more closely. Yes, my job could have been done by a machine. However, the observations and context of the community interaction would be completely missed.

Have you stepped outside of your comfort zone recently?

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