Blue Buttons(embracing change at work)

13 Feb

The dreaded blue button

In my previous life I worked in manufacturing, a heavily unionised company at that. Unions are fine but sometimes they get suspicious when change is brought in. Especially if the relationship between company and unions is a little fractious. To simplify what I wanted to say, Picture a machine operator in this bloople factory. They operate the machine which produces the blooples for the bloople market. It is the operators job to ensure that the blooples are the correct size, weight and appearance to meet the standards set for sale. The bloople machine is automated but the operator has to keep a constant eye on weights,measurements and consistency to ensure the product is the standard required. The bloople operator has worked this machine for 10 years. They come in each morning and turn on the bloople machine wait for it to warm up and then press the green start button. Off the machine goes, producing blooples all day, at the end of the day the operator simply presses the red stop button and then turns off the machine goes home and doesn’t want to see another bloople until tomorrow. The operator has performed the same routine day in day out for the past 10 years. Not much is said to them. They think they are quite profficient at producing standard blooples. But they can’t be sure because they don’t ask many questions and after ten years of bloople production they don’t really care. They come in press the green button in the morning and in the evening press the red button and go home. Simple!

One day a young fresh faced engineer who has just joined the company turns up with the bloople operators supervisor to the machine. He announces that he has closely looked at the machine and believes he can improve the quality of blooples. The operator thinks, “what can he mean, I come in every morning turn on the bloople machine press the green button and at the end of the shift I press the red button. No one has complained about my blooples” “Oh yes” says the fresh faced engineer ” we have come up with a solution to variances in quality of blooples throughout the day”. ” The machine will now have a blue button that you will need to press halfway through your shift” he says to the bloople operator. “But what is wrong with the way I have produced blooples,for ten years I have pressed the green button in the morning and the red button at the end of the day and now you want me to press a blue button half way through my shift. Hang on a second there.” The bloople operator is not happy with the change in work practices and contacts his Union steward who explains to the bloople supervisor that there will be no blooples manufactured on that machine if there is a blue button placed on it. A stand off begins and negotiation between the Unions and management is called for. A pay rise, compensation and training are requested for a change of work practice by the operator. The management explain that the blue button will make the bloople operators job easier. The Unions argue that there was nothing wrong with the bloople operators work in the first place and this blue button is a change in work practices and workload on the operator. Arguments fly back and forth. Bloople production is hit and negotiations are ongoing. Until one day an agreement is met and the bloople machine with the blue button installed starts up again.

Six months later the operator is asked how they are finding the new version of their machine. They reply ” that they don’t know how they managed without the blue button for all those years” it has improved the quality of blooples he produces and given him less stress in maintaining bloople production standards on the machine. All are happy.

Where is this going. When we are stuck with thinking that does not want or have the will to change, we end up with an inability to progress forward. We spend a large amount of money drilling for oil, a product that is messy,dangerous and expensive to transport. Yet we have spent very little time trying to look for alternatives. The first electric car was produced in 1963 but since then we have heard very little about them. The great thing about electric cars is that they require very little maintenance, servicing is usually a windscreen wiper water change and they are more economical. But our thinking 100 years after the car has been invented has only began to seriously look at it now. Simply because the lack of oil requires it.

We park a car on the side of the street by the process of driving past the space and then reversing diagonally into the space. With all our engineering abilities you would think we would have come up with a wheel design that allows all wheels to turn into that space and then line up. Yet we haven’t. Our cars work off the same premise that they did 100 years ago(with some modifications) but it’s generally the same basics. The motor industry and many others are very like the bloople operator they will continue to plod along in a very self centered way. Without realizing that by looking at the problem from a different angle might provide a better solution for all.

Thinking differently allows you to accept change more readily. A closed thought process only builds frustration and frustration with the most constant thing in your life – Change – will prevent you and your ideas from growing. Love that blue button.

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One Response to “Blue Buttons(embracing change at work)”

  1. Facebook May 20, 2014 at 6:05 pm #

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