yesterday I was in a grocery store checkout line, waiting, as it appears speed of transaction has given way to a seemingly slo-mo life. I had my hand and was leaning on what appeared to me to be a wall, that unknown to me had a scale on the top of it for the self-checkout lines that were backed up.
“Sir, take your hand off the wall! that is a scale.” exclaimed the frustrated worker in control of all the bot lines.
“Sorry, ma’am. I had no idea this was a scale, not a wall...why don’t you put a sign up?” I asked
“company policy doesn’t allow us to put signs on any machines.”
“why do you have balloons attached to the machines then?”
“I don’t know, company policy is that we ….blah blah blah…”
“but seriously, why? does the company have human factors, people, and designers? I can see where they can easily overlook this issue, and I wager this is something that happens anytime you get backed up?”
“you are right. a lot of people do it.”
“but you can’t put up a sign to let people know what is on the other side?”
it wasn’t going very well. I am not sure if she was frustrated and tired of the customers, was having some personal crap happening, or was just really ready to call it a day? you could see in her eyes she simply was done.
“Sorry ma’am, I am not trying to give you a hard time, but since coming back into the states the past few days, it seems to be a crime if you ask anyone, “why?”
we chatted and took the situation and it stuck with me that a lot of people just follow the rules without asking “why?” you don’t notice this unless you come from outside the system. what appears normal to some, appears insane to others. when you ask, “why?” you soon come to the realization that a lot of people are walking out life, not really having an answer to why they are actually doing what they do.
I see this issue a lot in many churches and/or with how some churches operate. you have people showing up and doing what appears to be a checklist of behaviors or actions and if you asked most, “why do you do that?” most have no real answer.
I credit my friend Brian for forcing me to look at the reasons why you do something and/or the purpose. then I apply it to my old friend mark the songwriter (who I am happy to learn is out with major acts touring as a tech) who gave me the rundown of songwriting one Sunday in Franklin, tn. and how you don’t waste anything with words in a song
the reality is that I waste lots of things in the front end of brainstorming, but it is how the process works with my brain vs. for example, Nicolai Tesla supposedly worked only inside his mind and then wrote the solution once. I would have enjoyed watching him think.
it appears we have digressed. the other night I was in an arena and had a woman come up to me four times to ask me questions. maybe I looked weird? I had a sketchbook out and was blistering through some sketches for the one prototype solution, standing next to a window next to two cops. I call her the overzealous ticket taker in that it appears she had nothing better to do but run around and enforce the rule. “you can’t take that camera in, it is county policy that any professional camera….”
“Ma'am, you think this is professional? that would be a Nikon D5.”
“any camera with interchangeable lenses is considered…
‘are you serious? this is a toy. I can take a camera phone picture today that is just as good as this…you would think of all places, you would want all the publicity you can get for your organization?"
we went back and forth and I really could not believe how people making rules to protect their brand or image are in respect to the reality that everyone walking around is technically a photographer. so she got the cops, the cops looked at me and my explanation of “uhm ma’am, I was standing here minding my own business and you came up three times and asked me questions and on the fourth time….you then noticed I had a camera around my neck…that I have brought into this arena while visiting for the past few years….”
the cop said, “it is county rules.”
I am not sure what is was, the look on my face that said, "who on earth carried a massive book of rules arond with them in thier pocket? or...
“Officer, I don’t live in the county, I do understand media, I was a stringer for Reuters and I understand you have rules, but what I do not understand is why this lady on some rulebook chasing binge? about things that really don't matter too much in life?"
the cop looked and her, looked at me, and some common sense appeared in the county arena. “if you want, you can give me the camera and I can stick it in security.”
“thanks. the irony is that this where it all started years ago with live entertainment around the globe."
"Yeah, there was an old GM charlie theokos who understood hunches versus rules and allowed a young kid to sit inside and watch them load shows into this place. That is the difference between someone that uses the rules as a guideline versus what this woman is doing, using them as an anchor and thinking, "wow, what a good job I am doing!" while unknowingly pissing off people by being annoying an overzealous, so they probably will never come back again.
I guess that is the problem with the people and the rules. we make up a list of rules and then expected everyone to follow them, yet, many rules today and even laws, were put in not for the benefit of overall society, but for the benefit of a few. we sort of have it backward, much like the leaders of the past times with even religion. “you are breaking the back of the people with all the rules and laws you put upon them.”
I think they call that legalism.
how many of the rule makers have to follow the same rules they make? the top doesn’t work the same way as it does for the rank and file. there is a vast difference between the powers that be and the average person on the ground.
I asked the manager of the local Starbucks about the speed of his people and he said, “sorry, but it is ironic that the company wants us to make money yet, have a customer experience and intersection…the two really don’t go together in busy times.”
I replied, “thanks for an honest answer. I was wondering if you told the workers to be slow, or they only have one gear they work at?”
truth is, that has been a radical shift in work ethic inside the usa. much like asking “why?”
people really don’t know, and/or want to question when another looks at their way or system and asks, “why?”
it is like this prototype we are building for the inner fitness group. they understand somewhat “why?” we are pushing for a certain way to build the idea. but it isn’t because I want to spend money, time and resources to get it where they need. but I had a similar problem 30 years ago with a show idea that was an experience. we spent three years explaining the normal and formal business way of presentations and no one except a CEO’s secretary got what the technologies really did. they never experience anything like what we were making.
that is “why?” I keep guiding and leaning to a path that is a bit more difficult than the traditional presentation route. I made the mistakes and understand “why” as well as “how?” on needs to work in qualitative or intangible experiences that happen over time.
I am ok not knowing an answer, asking “why?” or “how.” what I am realizing is a lot of society is not ok with this, as society has sent a message that you somehow have to be and appear perfect or look a certain way versus simply being who you really are inside yourself, and asking “why?” is a normal part of being human.
it doesn’t mean someone has to give you an answer, but it is nice when someone does and shows that they took more time than reading a rulebook to understand why they are doing what they are doing.
that is my 10 minutes of god knows what for this morning. simplify your life, the rules...and you will be so much happier and have a lot less stress.
if i could figure out how to insert lumps of coal inside some folks that are wired a bit too tight on the rules so that the woudl produce a man made diamond in thier nether region, i might think a bit differently about "rules."