February 5, 2013

Change Is Difficult

One of the things that I enjoy doing when I am travelling is reading the local English language newspaper.  I find the different perspective on the same story to be fascinating.

I was reading an article by a local business person on how they were going to change the structure and the ‘culture’ of the organisation that they led.  It was a well written article and what was being suggested seemed very straight forward and achievable; you decide what you want to change and then you change it, even the culture.

As I was reading it I was reminded just how difficult change can be, even very simple change.

A few days before I had visited a high rise office block and as I had done many times before in other similar buildings, I had checked in at reception been given a visitors badge and was told I would be met on the 22 floor.

I walked towards the elevators, saw that there were two banks, one for floors up to 20 and the other bank for floors 21 and above.  I walked towards the bank that would take me to the 22 floor and found there were six elevators, each with a letter above the door.  I had just arrived when one of the doors opened, I stepped in and went to push the button for floor 22 when I discovered that there were no buttons.  About the same time as I discovered there were no buttons, the door closed and off we went.  I had no idea where we were going.

The elevator stopped, the doors opened, so I got out, the doors closed and I was left alone in front of a bank of six elevator doors but still no buttons.  The company that I was scheduled to visit wasn’t on that floor but fortunately someone came out and stood in front of one of the elevators.  I noticed that this time the letter above the door was illuminated.  We got in and down we went, all the way to the ground floor. 

Back to reception; “Excuse me, how to you operate the elevators, there are no buttons?”  I was told that on the wall before the bank of elevators there was a key pad, I should touch my pass against it, type in the floor number that I wanted and the screen would display a letter which would correspond to the elevator that I should use.

Each time I use those elevators, I found myself inside the elevator looking for the button to press for the floor that I wanted.  A number of times I had just to wait until the elevator got somewhere, then I would get out and use the keypad on the wall and then used the indicated elevator.

I found the simple act of using a keypad on a wall to allocate the elevator to use to be ‘change’, it was difficult, I kept forgetting and reverting back to my ‘pre change’ behaviour.  Change can be achieved but we need to support people as they take the journey.