Paradigms shifting

I’m not a big fan of the phrase “paradigm shift,” but I recently experienced one first hand that I found rather interesting.

I was speaking for the Association Forum of Chicagoland at their office downtown. To get to the Forum offices, like most office buildings, you have to ride the elevator. But in the Forum’s building, rather than pushing an “up” or “down” button to call the elevator, you actually enter on a keyboard the floor you are going to, and then the keyboard screen tells you which elevator will take you to your destination. Once on the elevator, of course, there’s no need to push any buttons, as the elevator already knows where it’s going.

It’s a cool system, but it struck me that it really causes you to stop and think about a process that normally is done out of habit: what was “push the up button, wait for one of the elevators, get on the elevator that is going up, enter the elevator and push your floor button,” now becomes “enter your floor button on keypad, get on the correct elevator, and you’re done.” At first, the process takes longer, because I have to think about what I’m doing. But eventually, the process will be quicker than before, as presumably entering the floor before you enter the elevator allows the elevators to be more efficient (i.e., arrive more quickly or deliver me more quickly).

The same applies to any time we change business processes, whether it’s related to our database or to other systems within our organization. What may have once been a somewhat mindless “out of habit” process will now cause us to think, at least initially, about what we have to do. And that will likely slow us down, at least at first.

So keep the elevators in mind when you change processes. Things may slow down at first, but over time they should be more effective and efficient. Shift those paradigms!

About Wes Trochlil

For a quarter century, Wes has worked in and with dozens of associations and membership organizations throughout the US, ranging in size from zero staff (all-volunteer) to over 700. In that time Wes has provided a range of consulting services, from general consulting on data management issues to full-scale, association-wide selection and implementation of association management systems.

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