CAD Manager's Newsletter (#295)

23 Jan, 2013 By: Robert Green

To subscribe to this, or any of our other free e-mail newsletters, simply fill out the Cadalyst Newsletter Registration form.

Improve CAD Production Quality by Annoying Your Users, Part 2

Learn 'basic annoyance transfer' — and what to do if users don't respond — and you'll be on your way to improved CAD workflows.

In this installment of the CAD Manager's Newsletter, I'll continue my series about using annoyance to increase the quality of your CAD processes. I'll discuss management techniques you can use to transfer the annoyance of your current problems to their source — and, I hope, to end them.

I discovered the concept of annoyance transfer upon reading a recent article in the Wall Street Journal. The authors, Ray Fisman and Tim Sullivan, recommended that managers channel the consequences of workplace errors to the person who caused the error, rather than dealing with the problem themselves. I realized immediately that this approach could be the answer to dealing with CAD standards violations and many other CAD-related problems. If you haven't had a chance to read Part 1 of this series, I recommend that you do so now so you'll have proper context for Part 2. Once you've done your Part 1 homework to identify your intervention points and contacts, you're ready to take action. Here goes.

Basic Annoyance Transfer: Assign the Problem

Let's begin our annoyance transfer exercise with an example scenario:

Joe, who works in the mechanical design department, continually ignores layering standards for DWG files. When those files make their way to an automated cutting tool on the shop floor, Larry the tool operator has to clean up Joe's DWG files before he can manufacture parts.

Using my intervention point/contact logic from the previous installment, we can see that the problem (errors in the DWG files) is being detected by Larry (the intervention point), so Larry will therefore be our intervention contact for resolving the problem. We will then transfer the annoyance back to Joe to fix and resubmit the problem DWG files to Larry. Larry will then be my follow-up contact to verify that the problem is resolved. Of course, this process only works when senior management empowers the necessary personnel — in this case, the CAD manager and Larry — to confront the source of the problem. More on that shortly.

Note: A reader questioned why my recommended approach focuses on the person who detects the problem rather than the person who is the root of the problem. The fact is, the person who detects the problem knows more about it and what needs to be done to fix it than anyone else does — myself included. Who better to help me monitor the process as we transfer the annoyance and get it fixed?

To deal with a situation such as the one described, start with what I'll call basic annoyance transfer. I break down the process as follows, illustrated with our example scenario:

Communicate. "Joe, I've been helping Larry fix the DWG files you send him for proper upload to the laser cutter. We've noticed that you're not following our standard DWG format, and this is causing substantial rework and wasted time in Larry's department. Will you commit to following company standards so we can make this problem go away?" Read more »

:: CAD Manager's Toolbox: Project Chronicle

Autodesk Labs utility creates CAD training materials — with a twist.

I'm a big believer in using video technology to communicate training concepts to users, so I've become interested in Project Chronicle from Autodesk Research. This free technology preview is designed to help you capture and share software workflows. It comprises a video recording utility and a web site where you can post the video tutorials you create.

Project Chronicle starts out as a recording utility not unlike popular tools such as Jing or Camtasia, but its functionality goes beyond that, allowing users to capture additional information in the video, such as Second, the utility doesn't just record the video and voice narration, it also records the actions that are carried out, such as the software commands, settings, and dialog boxes that are used. These events are displayed on an interactive timeline when viewing a tutorial on the web site.

In addition, Chronicle enables users to search the video for commands. Read more »

Do you have a question or tip for the CAD Manager's Newsletter? Send it to me at; if I use it in the newsletter you'll receive a cool Cadalyst prize!

:: Resources

CIMdata Offers Guide for Those Working with Third-Party CAD Data
PLM (product lifecycle management) research firm CIMdata has released a downloadable buyer's guide that identifies criteria for choosing a CAD system that handles multi-CAD data. "CAD Selection Considerations: Multi-CAD Management" is free to those who register. The publication explains how to find a CAD tool for importing data, irrespective of source, and manipulating model geometry.

:: Events

Introduction to SolidWorks Electrical
January 29, 2013
10 a.m. ET
In this hour-long, interactive webcast, Fisher/Unitech engineers will demonstrate the basics of SolidWorks Electrical, then answer viewers' questions. Read more »

January 29, 2013
12 noon ET
This free, hour-long webinar will demonstrate the IES TaP for LEED online collaborative portal for managing the LEED workflow. Read more »

Product Innovation 2013
February 19–20, 2013
Berlin, Germany
Product Innovation (PI) 2013 is an event at the nexus of R&D, engineering, and IT that provides insight into product information creation, development, and management. PI 2013 builds on the PLM Innovation Congress, and brings it together with developments and applications in CAD, CAE, and simulation. Read more »

For a complete list of CAD meetings, conferences, training sessions, and more, check out our calendar of events on Are you hosting an event that you would like to include in our calendar? Submit details at least two weeks in advance to

:: What's New at

Combine Multiple AutoCAD Layers into One
Have you ever wanted to combine many layers into just one? LayMrg to the rescue! This handy command even deletes the empty layers when it's finished. Join Lynn Allen and check it out! View the video »

Q&A with Rick Rundell: Technology, the Contractor, and the Future
Autodesk director says construction will become a more precise, more efficient endeavor based on "digital reality" rather than abstract geometry. Read more »

Mapping Technology Saves $3 Million for Australian Tunnel Project
With GIS, project managers were able to reliably map areas of soil settlement concern and prevent costly asset relocation. Read more »

IRIS Produces Full-Color 3D Models from Printer Paper
New 3D printer from Mcor Technologies uses inexpensive, readily available material to produce models for AEC, manufacturing, and geospatial applications. Read more »

Switch to Direct Modeling Speeds Furniture Maker's CAD Workflow
Kimball International moves to Solid Edge with synchronous technology and gains shorter design times and simplified reuse of legacy data. Read more »

About the Author: Robert Green

Robert Green

Add comment

Note: Comments are moderated and will appear live after approval by the site moderator.

AutoCAD Tips!

Lynn Allen

In her easy-to-follow, friendly style, long-time Cadalyst contributing editor Lynn Allen guides you through a new feature or time-saving trick in every episode of her popular AutoCAD Video Tips. Subscribe to the free Cadalyst Video Picks newsletter, and we'll notify you every time a new video tip is published. All exclusively from Cadalyst!

Follow Lynn on TwitterFollow Lynn on Twitter

Do you use any augmented or virtual reality (AR or VR) technologies in your workflow?
Not yet, but we are planning to implement it.
No, but we think these technologies could hold value for us.
No; these technologies do not hold value for us.
Submit Vote

Download Cadalyst Magazine Special Edition