After a decade of driving the same brand of car, I decided to make a change at the beginning of this year and bought something different. Functionally, the new car is great. It has cut my fuel bill in half, provides more interior space than my old car did, is a doddle to park, and has enough electronic features to keep me amused for hours. As a gadget-loving geek, working in the hi-tech software industry, I pride myself on being an early adopter who just “gets” new technology as it arrives. But this car may be just too much of a good thing. Even after two months of driving it on a daily basis, I find it difficult to use. There are just too many buttons and scrolling bars; too many ways to perform the same task, and too many features hidden behind elaborate menu steps…
While on vacation recently, I visited an interesting restaurant with a large group of relatives. At the table a few clearly marked buttons were provided to request waiters to bring more water, clear used utensils, bring the bill, etc. I had never seen this back home in Vancouver. What a great idea to improve efficiency!
I have a friend who works at a large home improvement retailer. He often tells me stories about customers who buy expensive and sophisticated tools, yet have no DIY experience or knowledge on how best to use them.
Often these customers come back a few days later, hoping to return the tools because they “are not working” when in fact, there is nothing wrong with them; they are just not being used properly. One customer, for example, returned an expensive “defective” chainsaw. The problem was that he never bothered to read the manual, which instructed mixing lubricant oil into the petrol. As a consequence the chainsaw’s motor was permanently damaged.
Childhood and adolescence, for example, are both important and often frenetic phases in life, where any and every change dramatically impacts our development and invariably teaches us a lesson or two.
Later in life, as our experience of change grows, we either accept it, coming to terms with the truth that ‘change is the only constant’, or waste precious resources fighting to remain set in our ways.
Years ago I worked as a junior procurement officer at a medium sized Canadian manufacturing company. Within my first year, our production scheduler resigned and to my surprise, I was promoted to her position. I was terrified because I didn’t have a background in operations management and I didn’t understand its mysterious jargon. Acronyms like MPS, MRP, BOM, and the like were foreign to me. I also did not have a good grasp of our ERP system (SYSPRO).
The title that comes to mind and feels very personal is a term coined by SYSPRO’s Cape Town office: “Meryling”. I think this comes about as I can be pretty elusive and abstract but completely on the mark when I need to be. Meryling revolves around mulling, meddling, musing, and finally finding the mark, which makes SYSPRO so successful in Africa.
Recently I was watching one of those “how things are made” TV shows which featured a saw mill. I was amazed at the vast range of waste factors eating away at the profits of the hardworking lumber millers. From the felling of the tree to the final delivery of sawn timber products to their customers, their raw material is whittled down to a fraction of the original volume.
Isn’t it interesting how people give route directions differently, each believing to get the listener to his rightful destination in his own way? So often they start off with: “You know where XYZ café is? Well, from there take ….” Others may draw a crude sketch, showing the number of traffic lights you need to cross before turning left; but always adding “I think” before continuing. Still others take a map book, open it on the right page … and before providing directions, turn the book to face true north!
The travel savvy enquirer mostly stops listening and asks for the street address. He knows that his trusted GPS will get him to his destination in no time without counting traffic lights, memorizing upside down street maps or figuring out the assumptions (mostly wrong!) of confused co-travelers.