“A wise human would have an understanding of the supply chain and how the pieces fit together. But it’s against our nature to think about it.”
— Paolo Bacigalupi
I was at a friend’s house. His family was the kind who would sort their household waste.
As I was about to throw the milk carton I asked him “Which bin does this go into?”. He looked at me with raised eyebrows and said “Just rinse it with water, put it on the counter and it’ll get sorted.”
This was clearly not the answer I was looking for and said “How?”, his look grew slightly more puzzled as he said “I dunno…”
A while back I was doing some work for a company. This was not the sexy creative fluff I want to focus on but more of the “how to keep things from piling up and causing a right mess”-type of deal.
While going through their paper work I noticed something odd.
Since one of their key employees who basically took care of the backoffice system had left the company people kept doing their usual routine without understanding what, how and why things weren’t getting done.
See, the issue was that noone at the company had an overarching understanding of the whole process. It was totally compartmentalized. Station A did their job, station B theirs and he at the end of the chain just “did his thang”.
When I took a look at 2–3 months worth of papers I saw that their people hadn’t even bothered questioning how things would go from the physical paper into the computer.
I sat there mouth agape and wondered “How? How the hell did they think that would be possible? Fucking magic?!”
After I cooled down I started laughing. It was insane. I really wanted to understand it so I put myself in their shoes.
I mean, if you’ve had someone handle those things for you and aren’t that curious about what happens next then of course you’re not going to investigate things further.
We’re lazy. Plus, it’s comfortable. Things just work, right?
Yes, until they don’t.
This is where we all bear some responsibility. It’s really easy to say “Well, that’s their job. Not mine!” and wash our hands clean of the whole thing.
I’m not saying that we should carry the weight of the world on our shoulders but when things like these happen we need to handle them. Not just complain and wait for someone else to fix it.
Even if we don’t have the technical know-how or interest in doing the work ourselves we can always, always, always ask the questions “why, how & what”.
I want you to take a minute to think about and look at the things that you take for granted and do a little digging. Ask yourself “How does it work?”, “Why does it work?” and “What can I do to make it better?”.
Have a kick-ass ₢eative day!