In La vie chez Synergee

Dan Conery is an engineer by training, which means he thinks in terms of smooth-running systems. Where do people fit in?

I’m a people person who enjoys mathematics. It’s too bad math makes so many people anxious, because it has such a huge potential to improve our lives. Part of my mission is to use data to make work more fulfilling for people.

To illustrate my point, I’m thinking of a story about a well-known franchise business that, as far back as the 1980s, used predictive technology to reveal which food products to prepare based on store location, time of day, season of the year, and more.

They invested a lot in setting up computer systems when many did not believe in the value of this technology to generate these insights for two reasons:

  1. It was a huge task that needed to be done automated because people could not complete it within the time available.
  2. It was more humane to use computers!

This second point is especially interesting: I believe it’s mean to make people perform menial, mind-numbing tasks. The story goes that this pioneering franchisor felt the same.

In the short run it may be necessary to ask people to perform repetitive grunt work, but long term, it can be downright cruel!

You see, one of my management rules is to make sure my colleagues are tapping their innate powers of self-motivation. People are naturally motivated to do the things they enjoy. They want to feel that they are contributing, that their work matters.

In the franchise business especially, I am surprised to see a lot of time and effort wasted collecting, cleaning up, and distributing data. I see a LOT of Excel spreadsheets where the same data are entered multiple times. Not only is this duplicated effort wasteful, but it is fraught with chances of mistakes.

Where I’m coming from

I’ve come to AGT from the construction industry – an industry that for decades was considered one of the the most wasteful when it came to productivity. But at the turn of the century, things began to change, and it started to adopt the tenets of continuous improvement and what’s called “lean construction”: add value, reduce waste, and respect people.

If we want to create environments where people are self-motivated, we must minimize the activities that are not adding value. And no person can crunch numbers and chart trends as well as a computer!

In truth, even the most spreadsheet-loving among us will be overwhelmed by the amount of data generated by a business. At AGT Retail, we have customers who are using our software to make sense of hundreds of thousands of transactions each day!

They sift through all of this data to transform it into information – key insights that determine what needs their attention.

So, that’s why I’ve come to AGT: I want to use data and software to make work more fulfilling and rewarding,whether it’s the work of AGT people or the work of our customers.

I have been blessed with a dual nature I believe has helped me succeed: I’m a people person who enjoys mathematics and math’s offspring, technology. Or I suppose you could say I’m a math/tech nerd who likes people, but whichever perspective you take, I’m excited by the ways we can employ technology to add dignity to work.

Dan Conery is the chief executive officer of AGT Retail North America, Inc.

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