Tuesday, April 15, 2014

There's Actually a Name for it?!?

Traffic in large cities has always puzzled me.  How in the world can traffic be going 70 MPH on one end, and 70 MPH on the other end, and with no accidents or other problem, the traffic in between the two is just inching along, if not stopped altogether.   Why?

It has a name.

Matt Perman in his book - What's Best Next: How the Gospel Transforms the Way You Get Things Done, discusses this on page 223.

Researchers have found that whenever most systems — such as airports, freeways, and other such things — exceed about 90 percent capacity, efficiency drops massively. Not just slightly, but massively. This is called the “ringing effect.” The reason is that as a system nears its capacity, the effect of relatively small disturbances is magnified exponentially. This is why traffic slows down at rush hour almost inexplicably. When you think about it, unless there is an accident, there’s almost no reason that traffic should be going slow. And, here’s the thing: you’re right. Or, in other words, there is a reason, but it’s not what you’d expect. The reason traffic is slow is because of the relatively small and otherwise insignificant braking that some guy four miles ahead did — and the person a quarter mile behind him, and half a mile behind him. It’s not that they are slamming on their brakes; under ordinary circumstances, what they are doing would have almost no effect on the f low of traffic. The problem is that once capacity is past about 90 percent, small disturbances have a huge effect. And so traffic slows down, sometimes to a crawl. That’s the ringing effect.

You see the ringing effect, for example, when you are trying to schedule a meeting for ten people, and they all have to be there. It’s almost impossible to find a time that works for everyone, resulting in an untold number of emails going back and forth. And then, once everything is figured out, something unexpected comes up for someone and you need to reschedule the meeting again (and then reschedule the other stuff on your plate that is now interfering with the new time). That “rearranging” is the ringing effect. And it takes time away from the productive stuff that you have to do (in this case, times ten). And the effects continue cascading, for as you keep rescheduling, other people involved need to reschedule as well (even if they aren’t part of the group for the original meeting). And on it goes.

I don't know if it helps you, but I feel better now. :)

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Core Values

I'm reading Matt Perman's book, "What's Best Next: How the Gospel Transforms the Way You Get Things Done"   It is like "GTD on steroids!" :)

One point he has made several times is regarding "core values" or "core principles."  He says that one way to know whether something is a core value is to ask, "Would I still hold to this even if I was punished for it?"   It really makes me think, "How may of my values would I still retain if holding it would cost something or result in punishment?"

I heartily recommend this book.  I will be reading it again and again I'm sure.