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What I learned from the snake queue...

The lesson of the snake queue

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it or Leave well enough alone.  But do we?  Oh no, we are always trying to improve on things, no matter how well they work.

Progress does come from constant improvement, but it needs to be an improvement!

Hence the lesson of the snake queue…
I know that life isn’t always fair, I also don’t believe that everything happens for a reason (see below).
However, the advent of the snake queue made me feel so happy.  I knew that, once I was in it, I would get served next.  I didn’t have to decide which shopping trolleys in front of me had more items, and pick a line accordingly, I simply joined at the rear and waited my turn.
Those stores who have duplicate snakes facing each other do add a small element of stress in terms of which one to select, but I cope quite well with this one if I have my Kindle….
The same at airports, pharmacies and banks, such a fair system.
Then, a colleague and I went to the USA and arrived at Washington Airport with a connecting flight to catch.  We had to go through passport control and happily got into the snake queue.  Arriving at the front, I was directed by a very officious man to go and stand at a booth behind a family of 7, while my colleague was directed to another.  Ten minutes later, I was still waiting while the people originally behind me were quickly moving out of the passport area and my colleague was quietly panicking.
We just made the flight to Las Vegas.
The same thing has now happened to me in Frankfort and at OR Tambo.   A perfectly good, efficient system is being manually overridden.  Do they process more people by creating mini queues behind the booths?
How could they?  Do some passengers get processed faster because they get put in a quicker moving line?
Yes.
Is it fair?
Not any more.
And then there is the lesson of the traffic light.
I have always assumed that traffic lights (robots to us South Africans) are carefully computerised to allow for optimum flow of vehicles based on the time of day and the busyness of the road.  When the traffic lights aren’t working, it is an absolute pleasure to have the pointsmen/women on duty directing the traffic.
But now they seem to be on duty even when the traffic lights are fully functional.
If they were to override the lights, they could switch them all to amber as a warning, but now I sit and watch the lights go green, and get waved through as the lights turn red!
When they clear the traffic from a low volume side road, while the high volume one backs up, it is extremely difficult to understand the logic.
It really doesn’t seem to happen for a reason…
I appreciate that these aren’t life threatening inefficiencies, but the original systems work well, and they are morphing into systems that still kind of work, but cause unnecessary frustration.
It’s not that I don’t want the queue and traffic directors to have jobs, nor am I against creatively improving things.   



We only have to look at the left handed scissors to know that a new view can change lives.
So I am trying to learn the above lessons (there are many more) and remember that while we need to constantly look at processes, concepts and ideas with fresh eyes, as well as listen to input with an open mind, we should also try not to change good stuff just because we can or maybe because we didn’t think of it first…
Especially if it ain’t broke.

Links, References and Notes

Accsys provides people management solutions ie Payroll, Human Resources (HR), Time and Attendance as well as Access Control/Visitor Management.
The company develops, implements, trains and services our solutions.  We provide readers, turnstiles, booms and CCTV.
We run both on premise and in the cloud, as well as mobile options for ESS.  Recruitment, online education and Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) are part of our offering, too.

The writings of Tim Lawrence – Everything doesn’t happen for a reason – October 20, 2015
The whole psychology of queue handling, a topic in itself - http://service-thlinking.blogspot.co.za/2015/08/queuing-explained-in-words-and-pictures.html
http://www.accsys.co.za/accsys-peopleplace-talent-management
email:      tschroenn@accsys.co.za
twitter:   @TerylSchroenn




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