July 1, 2008

Unnecessary Angst

The flight status board in the airport is the equivalent of a mood ring, albeit a limited one. At Indianapolis International Airport, flights are displayed in two colors: green indicates on time arrivals and departures while red is used to indicate delays.

Upon arriving yesterday at the airport, I took a quick glance at the board only to be greeted by a sea of red screaming at me: delays delays, delays.  I could feel my blood pressure rise a bit as I began to consider alternative flight patterns to make it to my commitments.

But a closer look showed most delays were less than 10 minutes.   In fact my own flight, scheduled to depart at 8 a.m. was leaving at 8:03 a.m.  

This is a classic case when a well-intentioned information system actually adds stress, not relieves it.  By having too simplistic a standard (the flight is either on-time or late) the visual display sends unintended messages and potentially enflames the stress level of an already stressed public.

It's not hard to imagine that every organization has its equivalent of the flight board, some way of communicating updates or information to members and customers that really don't serve the intended purpose very well.  We would be wise to modify or eliminate any information sharing that causes unnecessary angst.

1 comment:

bob said...

What? You mean all-or-nothing thinking is bad? Next you'll be telling us to lower (or at least manage) our expectations and try to breathe more and just go with the flow (whilst keeping our short-term goals in mind but being flexible in how we take baby steps to achieve them).

;-)