Ups and downs of performance support

Harold Jarche, who knows what he’s talking about, wrote the other day about keeping learning and performance in balance.   In passing, he linked to an insightful post by Jay Cross, “Whatever happened to performance support?” Like Jay, I remember Gloria Gery’s influential book on electronic performance support systems (EPSS).

In a way, they are another example of the almost inevitable bandwagon effect that new technology seems to take in the world of training.   Make no mistake; Gloria was trying to shake up the world of corporate training departments, scheduled courses — the whole panoply of schoolhouse-like behavior that characterized “learning” in the typical large organization at the time.

Jay points out  that tools like wikis, Google, shared bookmarks, and so on are the new EPSS.   We thought at one time we’d all be carrying around little gizmos like the crew on the Enterprise (and some people are, right down to the communicator and no doubt the phaser).

What happens when there’s too much top-down thinking?   What happens when you try to cover every eventuality?   What happens when you violate that Ted Williams principle (“If you don’t think too good, don’t think too much.”)?

Something like this:

That’s an actual sign from an actual elevator.   (Click the photo to see the text in excruciating clarity.   I’ve also copied it into this post, after the continuation break.)   Over 300 words, 50 of them coming before “what to do.”

I can hear E. B. White weeping, while Joe Harless cackles at “instructions” that are much more of a job than an aid.

Malfunctioning sign photo by Matt Grommes.

(original text)

ELEVATOR MALFUNCTION

Elevators are a safe mode of vertical transportation. However, like other devices, they occasionally malfunction. Be prepared for such an occurrence. In order to repair sophisticated automatic controls, time is necessary. You may be detained for a short period of time (15 to 60 minutes) inside the elevator cab. BE CALM.

WHAT TO DO:

  1. Push the “Emergency Bell” button on the elevator panels; this will sound an audible signal.
  2. Every elevator is equipped with a hands-free emergency telephone. Push the button once to automatically dial the 24 hour answering service for REIT Building Management Services.
  3. If there is more than one person in the elevator, he sure that only one person talks at the time.
  4. Give the elevator number which is located above the panel and let the person answering know that you are trapped in the cab.
  5. DO NOT ATTEMPT TO FORCE OPEN THE DOORS — THIS IS THE MOST DANGEROUS ACTION YOU CAN TAKE!
  6. You are safest remaining inside the cab until the elevator contractor arrives to extract two.
  7. Do not attempt to climb out of the elevator cab if it is not level with the floor.

THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS IF YOU HAVE USED THE EMERGENCY PHONE:

  1. The answering service will proceed with notification of an employee of REIT. If it is during business hours this employee should be able to let you out.
  2. If it is after business hours the answering service will notify REIT and then notify the elevator contractor which is on 24 hour call.
  3. If the courtesy officer is on duty, he may respond to the audible signal and establish contact with you and the other passengers to gather pertinent information.
  4. Sit on the floor of the cab and RELAX; you are safest remaining inside the cab until the professionals arrive to extract you.

I couldn’t resist a quick try at fixing this.

WHAT TO DO IF THE ELEVATOR STOPS WORKING

1.  Stay calm.   It may take a while, but someone will get you out.
2.  Push the (color) EMERGENCY BELL button on the control panel.   You will hear the signal.
3.  Push the (color) TELEPHONE button.   This will automatically call the building management.
4.  Tell the person who answers that you are trapped in the elevator cab.
5.  Tell the person the elevator number.   The number is above the control panel.
6.  Wait till the contractor arrives to get you out.

Sit on the floor and try to relax.
You’re safest when you remain inside the cab till the contractor comes.

THINGS YOU SHOULD NOT DO:

1.  Don’t try to climb out of the cab if i’s not level with a floor of the building.
2.  Don’t try to force the doors open.   Forcing the doors is DANGEROUS.

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