waiting – a lesson from elevators

Last weekend was the first sermon I’ve preached in a long while, on Acts 6:1-7. It’s a story from the early days of the church where a complaint had come up that some of the widows (of a particular people group) were being neglected in the daily distribution of food. We can learn some lessons from it about how to handle complaints: the making of complaints, and the handling of complaints, and as you expect in that part of Acts, it raises expectations of how quickly people could learn about and embrace the Christian faith, and in what numbers.

One of the ways I illustrated the idea of complaints was to talk about an old design thinking story where there were complaints about elevator waiting times. 

In the original story, the source of which seems to be a book from 1970’s (Wyckoff, D. D., Sasser, W. E., Olsen, R. P. (1978). Management of service operations: text, cases, and readings. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.), a building manager is receiving complaints about the waiting times for the elevators. 

Elevators have come a long way since the 0.2m/s travel times of the original Otis elevator in 1856. The current fastest elevator in the world – in the CTF Finance Centre – can travel at 20m/s (over 60km/h!). And there are other technology developments to reduce travel times, and improve flexibility of travel.

As it turns out, we don’t like to wait. And of course the solution in the original story was unrelated to making the lifts faster. Realising that the people were complaining about the perception of time passing, the wise building manager installed mirrors in the foyer. The travellers, now distracted by looking at their reflections, didn’t notice the wait times as much, and so the complaints stopped.

Oh, and the strangest device I found in my reading was the Paternoster.

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1 Comment

  1. that Paternoster system looks so great for OH&S incidents and disabled access!!!

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