Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Make it Easy, Take it Easy

One of the things that really grosses me out is a wet sponge, used and covered with little particles of food and debris, sitting in a sink. I don't like looking at them, smelling them, or touching them. Ick!

The Scene of the Ickiness
So, when I encountered a truly disgusting example in the break-room sink at work, I was faced with some options. Break-room sinks are even more disgusting than most because no one takes ownership for them, so they never are really clean. When I found our department sponge mouldering in a puddle, I wondered who would leave it there, and how could anyone wash their dishes using it?

I could have just ignored it. After all, I don't actually wash my dishes at work. I take them home. But I do occasionally wash my hands there. So I would see the sponge again.

I could have rinsed it out, squeezed it out, and put it on the counter to dry. But I would have to actually touch it (ick, ick, and double ick!) tomorrow, and the day after that. And the day after that. The prospect of becoming the icky sponge monitor wasn't appealing.

So, I did something else. I bought and installed a sponge holder. Now when the sponge is used, the user can set it in the conveniently located holder. The effort required is zero, and the sponge will tend to stay drier.

I think that people don't wake up in the morning thinking, "How can I gross Clare out today?" They just tend to follow the path of least resistance. They choose to take the alternative that seems like it benefits them the most. So my teammate sponge users didn't want to fuss around with the sponge. They just wanted to wash and go. Throwing the sponge into the sink was born for a desire to not be doing the washing anymore.

When things aren't going the way you desire, take a look at the system that behavior is a part of, and ask yourself if the system can be tweaked to give you the outcome you desire. Be careful, though. Sometimes the tweaks can result in unexpected outcomes, not all desirable. A while back I installed  edging in my garden at home. I wanted to keep the nice tillable dirt in the garden and out of the lawn. I wanted to keep the grass in the yard and out of the garden. A few dollars and several feet of pound-in edging later, I was happy. But what I didn't realize was that the area of lawn I had just isolated from the garden was the low point in my yard. And come the next rain, I had "Lake Felgert" in my back yard. By keeping the dirt in the garden and the grass in the yard, I also kept the water in the lowest point! So it's important to re-evaluate your tweaks and make sure that the result you have is the result you want.


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