Perception is Key

January 21, 2009

I work in a small office tower, there are only four floors and two elevators.

There is a common complaint of people visiting the building that the elevators are the slowest elevators in the city.

Having worked in the property management / construction industry, I can tell you that the elevators are no slower than most elevators in their class.

The Perception Problem

What is the most common spot for people calling an elevator?

Naturally, the ground floor. But there is rarely an elevator there!

In this building, if two people take  the elevator to the top floor, the elevators remain at the top floor until the next elevator request.

So if you arrive at the ground floor and press the elevator button, you have to wait for it to come down, before you can start to go up.

The perception of the elevator speed suffers as a consequence.

More efficient elevator systems will have one or more elevators park on ground, meaning that if they are all idle, one will return to the ground floor before it goes into idle mode.

The SMB Takeaway

In IT, there are always speed and performance questions and issues.

You can try to do a heroes labor trying to turbo charge that elevator.

Or you can dig deeper analysis into the root cause.

Maybe returning the elevator to the ground floor for the next passenger is all you need.

But that is not just an IT challenge, as Irving Wladawsky-Berger of IBM writes in Learning from Experience;;

..The root causes are often as much a result of poor management and organizational breakdowns as they are the results of technical flaws or mistakes.  Yet, most companies don’t spend enough time analyzing and improving the effectiveness of their organizations

Have you identified a root cause that that that was similar to this elevator in your business?

If so, let me know!

Photo Credit: Express Monorail (°O°Joe)’s photostream

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2 Responses to “Perception is Key”

  1. elliotross Says:

    Thank you for your comment Julien,

    You are correct – the end user does not care. Slow is Slow.

    And as you state, looking for the true root cause is too often ignored. As you state – throw hardware at it and hope the problem goes away.

    Even if it is hard – look at that root cause. To continue with your more technical software example, perhaps all tuning and indexing is fine.

    But the application code is making dozens of sequential wide are network API calls rather than one etc.

    So looking beyond the obvious I believe is a key point.


  2. You say that “The perception of the elevator speed suffers as a consequence”… I don’t think it’s a matter of perception. The elevator DOES take a lot of time to arrive and get me where I need to go. The end user doesn’t care if it’s taking time because it’s not tuned properly, not waiting on the right floor, or simply mechanically slow… it’s slow. period. The burden of finding the root cause is on the person who needs to fix the problem (probably someone who works on the first floor anyways).

    A common IT scenario is to have an application running slowly. The typical reaction is to get more hardware… buy a bigger computer, buy more ram… get more CPUs… And it does fix the problem… partly, and at great costs. A root-cause analysis would have determined that the problem was caused by a non-optimized algorithm, database tuning/indexing issue or some other glitch that would have been relatively easy to solve.

    Julien Dionne
    http://leapcomp.com


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