Creativity breaks patterns. An Article By Vijay Michihito Batra
In our day to day lives, we come across challenges, where despite repeated pleas; the group of wrong doers don’t reform their behaviour and continue doing what is inappropriate. Even if a few think of doing what is right, when they see the majority doing the wrong, the inertia of the group continues.
Following is a great example that illustrates how creativity can bring about an instant change in the inappropriate behaviour.
In the Kanpur Ordnance Factory’s ammunition manufacturing unit, workers were required to wear special anti-static shoes. This was to prevent gun powder from being set off from static electricity when people walked around. These shoes were delicate and not designed to withstand everyday usage and were expensive.The workers wore them outside the factory, walked on streets, rode bicycles etc. This withered the shoes off easily. The Ordnance factory was incurring a huge cost replacing these shoes. Being a government factory, with the employees protected by unions, the management of the factory felt very helpless in correcting the situation. Despite repeated reminders, then pleading and finally multiple warnings, there was no change in the behaviour of the workers. A group got together to brainstorm a solution to modify the behaviour. After some engaging discussions, the solution was found, which instantly changed the behaviour of all the workers. It was decided that in the next order for the shoes, order all the right shoes in black and all the left shoes in white. When the new lot of black and white shoes arrived, all the workers wore it only in the factory premises as they felt very reluctant to wear the contrasting pair of shoes outside in the public. To break inertia of a group of people, sometimes drastic measures are not effective, what works very well is to think of a new way, that will trigger reluctance to do what is inappropriate. Once the right pattern has been set, over a period of time, the appropriate habit will gain strength and individuals will be reluctant to do the inappropriate.