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Howard's End: Here’s A QUERTY Idea For You


Howard's End: Here’s A QUERTY Idea For You

By Maree Howard

Who knows why the keys on a computor key board are still laid out in the QWERTY arrangement? It's always been that way but does it make sense when leveryone uses a computer that can respond to keystrokes at a rate faster than any human could ever type? Let's start challenging the conventional ways of doing things by some lateral thinking. Maree Howard writes.

The QWERTY layout on keyboards was actually designed to slow down the possible speed of typing because on early typewriters the mechanical arms that struck the carbon ribbon would jam together if the typist was too quick.

Today, that layout doesn't make sense but we continue with that design because that's the way it's always been done. We are creatures of habit, comfort and convention.

But if we are to be socially and economically successful we need to ask in all things we do as a nation:

"Why is it done this way?

Why does it have to be done this way?

Are there other ways of doing it?

That creative challenge doesn't set out to criticise, or find fault but, rather, to improve and build.

Take the current power crisis. I wonder how many Kiwi's know that the Wairakei Geothermal development in 1947 came about because of two previous years of drought and there were fears over hydro-electricity generation with not enough water in the lakes. Sound familiar?

The lateral thinkers, for those days, engaged in some provocative thinking and did not let their creativity remained imprisoned by assumptions or conventions. They did not feel satisfied with the hydro solutions to power generation and they set out to solve it for those times.

Today, we wring our hands and count our worry beads crying woe is us - there's no rain to fill the lakes, what do we do?

Well, maybe there are still huge resources of super-heated water bubbling below the surface all over the country just waiting to be discovered. After all, we are within the Pacific ring-of-fire and our whole history is based on volcanic activity.

We need to challenge the old assumption that reliance on rain will be the main source of power generation for decades to come. We should not become locked-in to what we perceive is the best or only approach but to look for as many different approaches as possible - in all things we do.

The Government has announced an $85 million industries training package to increase the number of workers participating in workplace learning.

It says more and more NZ businesses agree that training is an investment that pays off in increased productivity and a highly motivated staff.

Maybe! But not if the same tired, old ideas, and vertical or myopic thinking remains.

I recently heard of a young worker who came up with an idea, took it to her bosses and they simply rejected it seemingly without any investigation or thought.

C'mon, be honest, how many of you reading this still suffer that same fate from your bosses in Government and private enterprise today.

Worse, I understand the youngster is now living in Canada and working for a company who listens.

Libraries are stacked with books about lateral thinking and every New Zealander should read them. From what I've read, in our natural search for alternatives we usually stop when we have found a solution. But shouldn't we be trying to find as many possible solutions as we can and break free from normal convention.

As a nation shouldn't we be making our brains break free from our existing and rigid patterns - liberate our minds and not be dominated by convention - challenge assumptions and be bold about it?

Over my life-time I've heard many good ideas from our young people that are simply not listened to by our leaders in Government and private enterprise.

No matter how much the Government spends on training in the workplace and tries to upskill workers and boost their value to employers that will be a waste if the workers themselves do not feel valued and vertical thinking prevails among New Zealand's leaders.

New Zealand needs a new "ideas" organisation headed by lateral thinkers and dedicated to assist all New Zealanders drive this country forward. Let's call it Vision Corp.

I'll lay good odds that our leaders in Government and private enterprise won't listen or take-up that idea either.

Anybody want to lose some money and bet otherwise?

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