Sometimes we're so focused on the details of what we're doing that we fail to see the small improvements that can be made along the way.

The building where I work is currently undergoing renovations. When it's all over, we'll have a better working environment for about 2,000 people; a bigger and better canteen, more space, and no doubt a whole lot of other cool stuff. The downside is the temporary disruption caused by the contractors while the improvements are underway.

One of the biggest disruptions is the ability to get between floors. Some central stairwells have been blocked off which leaves the lifts (or elevators, for my American friends) as the only means of getting up/down a single floor. Of the 4 lifts, one serves just the basement and ground floor. The remaining three lifts serve about 2,000 people between the ground and 4th floors. Needless to say, there's massive congestion at peak times - like lunch.

What I find interesting about this is that no one thought to open the 4th lift up to the entire building. What appears so obvious to the users isn't always as obvious to the builder.

As software developers, this is a lesson we often learn the hard way. We seldom ask customers what they want. We seldom listen to their complaints or frustrations. We seldom watch them to see how they use our software. We seldom think of the little things that could make their lives better while the big things are being built.

So... are all your lifts working?


26 April 2012