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Saturday, December 28, 2013

How to Make the World Better: A Simple Plan by Dan

Sallie and I were checking out at Target a few nights ago and we couldn't find the bar code on the kitty litter. We finally found it near the bottom of the bucket on the backside. I had to lift and spin it so the cashier could scan it. Sal said, "It's obvious the person that designed this has never worked a register. Put that crap on the lid and make it easy for all of us."

Empathy, or the lack thereof, often causes grief among people. I don't think people are inherently bad, I just think the lack of experience in the other person's shoes can blind you to the stress and BS they have to deal with.

It's what I like to refer to as the programmer's dilemma. Often, a new piece of software will get pushed to our machines at work and it technically works, but not well. The programmer, who is a level 4 person, will mark the project as a success because it does work even if the usability is busted.

The level 1 person, help desk, starts getting an influx of calls for this product. Users are not happy and they are yelling at the help desk analyst as if it's their fault. The level 1 reports it to the level 2 escalation person, who then reports it to the level 3 manager.

When the manager brings this concern to the programmer, they show the manager how it works, even if it's not the easiest way to operate that software. Because it works, the programmer can't understand what the issue is.

Now if we were to take that same programmer and put them on the phones for a few days, they would quickly understand how their decision effects hundreds of other people. Maybe then, the next time some software rolled out, things would be better.

This same principle can be applied to people that yell at their server in a restaurant for food they didn't prepare, cashiers that don't control prices, and police officers that didn't write the laws. If everyone had to spend even one day in the other position, the way people are treated would be drastically different.

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