“And what’s this box for? The one in the top corner, marked ‘AW’”
“Dunno. It’s always been there. I was told just to put ‘0’ in it”
“Well, I need to know what it’s for so I can put it in the new system”
Computerisation was a transformational event for business in the 1960s & 70s. However, if you just copied the paper forms, the new system would have all the same faults. You had to question if it what things were for.
They asked around the factory, “What’s the box marked ‘AW’ for?” but nobody knew.
“I was just told to put ‘0’ in it” everyone said.
It was a puzzle.
Someone said his grandad, who’d retired ages ago, might know. So they asked him.
“Oh that!” he said.
“Well, it was in the war. When there was an air raid warning we had to stop the line and take cover. If there were lots of air raid warning in a day, production could be right down, so we needed to keep count of them”
Mystery solved. The AW box was just a relic, a habit that no-one had bothered to question. It wasn’t needed anymore.
How many relics do we have in our work? How many habits that serve no useful purpose?
Loads, right? In this transformational event, COVID-19, we have a chance to ditch them.
Let’s not put them in the new systems we build after this is over.