There is no debating that the trajectory of robotics and other warehouse automation continues to trend upward. You do not need to be a futurist to foresee the increased role of warehouse automation in distribution center operations. And yes, these sophisticated systems will continue to replace roles currently occupied by humans. However, there will continue to be a role for humans even in the most fully automated environments, and not just as machine tenders but as significant players.
This point, albeit one that is still very extreme, is raised to illustrate a concept. If your organization is considering a large-scale initiative, there is almost certainly a software systems component. While it may not be to the extreme of fully automating your operations with robots, it is very easy to look at software and systems as the final solutions while overlooking the human impact. Overlooking these change-management barriers typically results in failure.
There are several reasons why large-scale initiatives fail. This failure can be often tied to the lack of a structured change management program.
There is an entire methodology for developing a structured change-management program to ensure success. A few core concepts to keep at the forefront when developing a change management program include:
To move your team out of the current state that they know into a future state that they do not know, you have to invest time and effort into answering a lot of why and what questions.
Here are a couple examples of questions that need answers:
Investing the time to address these concerns is worthwhile and can go a long way towards a successful project.
—Howard Turner, St. Onge Company
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