It's nowhere near as important as yesterday's topic of employee and patient safety, but my last two days of using the new Mac OS X 10.7 “Lion” operating system made me think of some classic change management challenges that might be of interest to Windows and Linux users even.
If you've ever used a computer mouse with a scroll wheel, you know that the standard has been to pull the wheel back toward you to scroll down on a page. If you have used Lion or read reviews about it, you know that Apple has reversed that to a new default they call “natural scrolling,” which feels anything BUT natural, at first.
A good summary of those whole issue can be found here at BusinessInsider.com. As pictured below, to move “down” in a page, you're now pushing the document up, which means you're pushing the scrolling direction AWAY from you instead of TOWARD you, as shown below:
A lot of Mac users, including my friend Kevin Meyer of Evolving Excellence, have complained that this new approach feels decidedly UN-natural.
If you're a heavy iPhone or iPad user, then this scrolling method probably feels OK and at least things are now “standardized” across your devices. That's maybe well and good for Apple, but now we have a horrible lack of standardization across all computer platforms. I don't use a Windows machine very often anymore, but if I relearn this Apple method, then Windows will feel backward… is that what Steve Jobs wants you think?
If you're a long time mouse user, this change might be driving you insane today. Apple DOES give you the option of reversing this back to the old scrolling method through an easy menu setting.
So…. the question is: do you fight through the change and retrain your brain, or go back to the old and comfortable?
You CAN retrain your brain, as one insightful comment on the BusinessInsider piece said, but SHOULD you?:
George Stratton performed experiments in the 1890s by provided subjects with mirrored glasses that invert *everything* and provide an image to your retina that's actually the “correct” way. (If you'll recall, your retina actually processes an inverted image.)
Apparently, people can adapt completely to this inversion of their entier world within 4 days to the degree that things no longer appear upside down and they have to focus to tell that anything is amiss.
I'm sure your “pliable” mind will find a way to outclass experimental lab subjects from the 19th century.
I've seen similar situations via Lean improvements and “kaizen” (continuous improvement) work in manufacturing AND healthcare settings. When team members come up with a better way of doing things, that new method can feel strange or uncomfortable at first. People might be very tempted to go back to the “old way of doing things.”
It's debatable whether the new scrolling direction is really an “improvement” or if it's just a “change.” Different isn't always better.
Case in point, the Lean process at Starbucks, their so-called “beverage repeatable routine” (something I blogged about last year). The new process was deemed better (in terms of drink quality and barista productivity), but it (steaming milk one drink at a time) was a big change from the old method (steaming a batch of milk for a few drinks).
The new BRR was slower for many people at first, so they wanted to give up on it. Leaders and baristas often said that you had to power through the change and get comfortable with the new routine to realize the improvement. So do you struggle through a day or two of awkwardness to have months of ongoing benefit?
One lesson that my co-author Joe Swartz has contributed a concept from their experience at his health system for our upcoming book Healthcare Kaizen: Engaging Front-Line Staff in Sustainable Improvements – this idea is “7 days' grace,” meaning that you give any new process 7 days grace before deciding, for certain, if it's better or not. There are exceptions to that rule (if something's obviously unsafe), but it's a good rule of thumb. I've seen others make the same argument that you need to give “natural scrolling” 7 days' grace, as well.
After about 24 hours of having Lion on my iMac (and using it quite a bit yesterday), I'm getting more comfortable with the “natural scrolling.” I've fought the urge to switch back. I still scroll in the wrong direction occasionally, but I do it less often than I did at first. I'm retraining my brain here… but again, I'm not sure it's really “better.”
Microsoft Office users went through similar turmoil with the introduction of the “Ribbon.” I remember reading (but can't find) quotes from the main designer who said their research showed that the Ribbon was easier to use than the old toolbars and menu combinations. That might have been true… unless you had been using MS Office for years. Apple might think “natural scrolling” makes more sense, but that might only apply to brand new computer users!
If Rip Van Winkle woke up from a long coma and you put him in front of a computer and said “move the page down,” what way would be “natural” to him?
So the question remains – go back to the old and comfortable or power through the change to reach eventual levels of new higher peak performance? When do you admit failure with a change and realize that no amount of powering through will get you to better performance? Ah, the real world challenges of the PDCA cycle!
How do you handle murky change challenges like this?
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