Job shadowing LO17407

LonBadgett (
Fri, 13 Mar 1998 10:32:45 EST

Replying to LO17391 --

In a message dated 98-03-12 23:07:08 EST, you write:

> I've been asked to develop a JOB SHADOWING program. After asking around,
> no one seems to know what it really means and in what context it should be
> used.

The old Air Force Logistics Command (Now called Air Force Material
Command) used a program called Blue Two to give weapon designers a taste
of how field units lived - before they designed and built a weapon that
couldn't be maintained in the field. They simply packed up the design and
test team, shipped them to an actual field unit, and let them work
alongside the actual workforce for a week. They ate, slept, dressed and
worked the same shifts as their customers. They always discovered
meaningful design requirements from this experience. It is one thing to
glean user requirements from documents and meetings and quite another to
understand user requirements after trying to use a bulky wrench while
leaning over a hot engine and wearing a clumsy chemical warfare suit.

The cost to payback ratio for this program was enormous. Saving even 1%
of the lifetime maintenance cost of an aircraft would pay for hundreds of
field trips like this. More importantly, both the design team and the
field units gained an important glimpse of the "bigger picture". This
resulted in a much smoother flow of information between them and a
tendency for each side to raise important issues early in the design phase
rather than sitting back waiting for the "other guy" to say something.

The biggest problem with work sharing programs is the loss of production
by the traveling person or organization. After all, if I am out of my
office tailing you around, who is going to do my work while I'm gone? The
answer, of course, is that in the long run any temporary work stoppage
must result in a benefit that outweighs the loss. However, if your staff
members can't mentally justify the benefits of shadowing first, they won't
invest the time or energy to get the results. Most time management
problems stem from this same issue, that the benefit of long term planning
and cooperation is lost in the rush of short term activity. If you will
ask whoever tasked you to provide a detailed list of benefits for this
program they want, I think you will gain a clearer picture of what price
they will be willing to pay to get it.

Lon Badgett

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