By Kevin Meyer
I often rant on the evils of computers, especially when they are used to try to manage a factory floor. It's amazing how a simple whiteboard can be far more powerful. I'm not against technology – in fact I'm more than a bit of a tech geek. I just believe that technology can be overused thereby actually increasing unnecessary complexity.
The Wall Street Journal recently had an article on handwriting and how it can enhance learning. I found many similarities to my thoughts on the power of manual and visual systems such as whiteboards. Parents of young children may also want to take note.
Using advanced tools such as magnetic resonance imaging, researchers are finding that writing by hand is more than just a way to communicate. The practice helps with learning letters and shapes, can improve idea composition and expression, and may aid fine motor-skill development.
It's not just children who benefit. Adults studying new symbols, such as Chinese characters, might enhance recognition by writing the characters by hand, researchers say. Some physicians say handwriting could be a good cognitive exercise for baby boomers working to keep their minds sharp as they age.
There it is in a nutshell, but I'm a bit too passionate about this subject to simply stop.
"It seems there is something really important about manually manipulating and drawing out two-dimensional things we see all the time," says Karin Harman James, assistant professor of psychology and neuroscience at Indiana University who led the study.
She [Virginia Berninger, a professor of educational psychology at the University of Washington] says pictures of the brain have illustrated that sequential finger movements activated massive regions involved in thinking, language and working memory—the system for temporarily storing and managing information.
And one recent study of hers demonstrated that in grades two, four and six, children wrote more words, faster, and expressed more ideas when writing essays by hand versus with a keyboard.
So now think about the process of simply entering in (and expediting and correcting…) data into an MRP system versus writing it by hand on a whiteboard – or moving status indicators or drawing a value stream map. Which creates a better understanding of the numbers and their relationship and meaning? Which will then stimulate creativity to spark improvements?