February 2009, Vol. 21, No.2

From the Editors

Operations Forum Editor’s Note

The Personality Trifecta

Steve Spicer

 The world is split into a few different types of people. Dreamers use inspiration to invent new concepts and technologies. Big-picture people stand a half-step back to understand how things fit together. Detail-oriented folks work out kinks to make things flow smoothly.

This issue contains examples of each type and how they fit together. “How To Overcome the Six Factors Holding Back Your Automation” is a study in big-picture thinking. It serves as a bridge between those imagining the benefits of a fully automated plant and the folks who need to use it everyday. The straightforward advice moves projects along and ensures that everyone’s voice is heard.

The other feature in this issue, “Door-to-Door Service,” shows how all three types interact to make things happen. The big-picture thinkers in Hernando County, Fla., saw that rapid growth would require an interim plan to handle the wastewater flows and solids disposal. The dreamers came up with the idea of a mobile dewatering operation to move the dewatering units to the solids instead of moving the solids to the dewatering units. The detail-oriented folks stepped in and devised an equipment rotation schedule based on such parameters as loading to the plants, distance from the plants to the landfill, and time needed to setup and breakdown equipment at each plant.

It’s tempting to judge one personality type as more important than the others. Arguments can be made that the detail-oriented are the best because they do most of the real work, or that the dreamers are the most valuable because without them we would lack new ideas, or that the big-picture thinkers are the glue that holds together what can be imagined and what can be accomplished.

These things are all true, but they’re shortsighted. Each type balances the shortcomings of the others, and all three are needed to continue moving forward.