Why human glue fails

If you are unfamiliar with the expression human glue then this blog post may seen bizarre initially. But stick with it; you’ll be glad you did (and no, human glue is not a Soylent Green byproduct).


A definition of glue
One of the definitions of glue offered by Dictionary.com is “a hard, impure, protein gelatin, obtained by boiling skins, hoofs, and other animal substances in water, that when melted or diluted is a strong adhesive”. Kinda makes you wonder who first decided to boil various animal parts to see what might result, and kinda makes you wish that you hadn’t eaten the stuff as a child.

However, for the purposes of this blog post, the site offers several alternative definitions, and the definition stub “to fix or attach firmly with or as if with glue” suffices nicely.


Human glue
Human glue is a term used frequently within the corporate environment to indicate that a particular process or sequence is dependent upon human interaction or involvement in order to work as designed. The human interaction or involvement element might include a particular group of employees updating a common spreadsheet with pertinent details, returning a form, subscribing to an email distribution, or any number of other activities. In each case, the human element aligns with the definition because it is acting as the glue that keeps the process assembled and working. If the human element fails then the process falls apart.


Human glue is unavoidable
Human glue is unavoidable in many instances unfortunately, and not always within the corporate environment. How many times in a week does something not happen in your life because “someone” was supposed to do something?

The issue of human glue came up in a discussion I had recently with a coworker at my full time job. We were discussing different ways of using our content management system (CMS) to single-source help content for multiple related projects but, regardless of the innovative methods that we came up with, there seemed to always be some element of human glue involved. Following that discussion I’ve continued to noodle the core requirement to see if I can come up with a fully automated process, but unfortunately the human glue element seems to be entrenched in the process.

Do you struggle with the human glue in your processes or have you been successful in eliminating it? Comment below and let me know.


Glue. (n.d.). In Dictionary.com. Retrieved from http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/glue?s=t


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About Shy Witness™

My blog posts range from observations about current events to technology, general life observations, and the antics of my dog Sandy, her brother Ricky, and her half-brother Morgan. View all posts by Shy Witness™

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