Merge's Blog

QWERTYUIOPs = that’s the way we’ve always done it!

So what the heck is a QWERTYUIOP? If it looks familiar, that’s because it’s the top row on your computer keyboard.  Now you might wonder why your keyboard is arranged this way; wouldn’t it make more sense to arrange the keyboard alphabetically?  The answer to this enigma lies back in history in the 1800s.  You see, before there were computers, typewriters ruled in the office.  And when the first typewriters were developed in the mid-1800s, the keyboard was organized much more logically.  But one of the problems with the early typewriters was that the keys in the type-bar system jammed up easily.  To temporarily solve this problem, the inventors split up the keys for commonly-used letters into an illogical sequence so as to slow down how fast people could type.  By the time a better and improved mechanism that did not seize up was developed several years later, typists everywhere had already learned the unusual sequence of keys and did not want the discomfort of “unlearning” and “relearning”.  So the illogical QWERTYUIOP keyboard became the standard.

Today, QWERTYUIOP is symbolic of things in organizations that are illogical, outdated or inefficient, but that have never been challenged or changed because “that’s the way we’ve always done it.”  Think about it for a few minutes – whether it’s policies, business processes and practices, reports, meetings, task forces, or anything else – there are no doubt things happening in your organization (perhaps even in your department) that drain time, money and energy and continue to be done for no other reason than it’s too much effort to change.

What are your QWERTYUIOPs? Perhaps it’s time to take a closer look and see what needs to be changed … even if it makes you or other people exceedingly uncomfortable.  What do you think?

4 thoughts on “QWERTYUIOPs = that’s the way we’ve always done it!

  1. Often acceptance, and not efficiency, is the more important factor in the equation of success. The fact is, our current keyboard works really welland many people use it with lightning like speed.

    If you’ve ever had to move from QWERTY to a keyboard in strict alphabetical order you know how awkward it is and slow to try to adapt.

    It’s useful to remember as we promote change that we must take care of how that change will effect other people. Will the resistance be worth the change?

  2. I agree completely with you Douglas — it’s critical to work to gain acceptance when we seek to implement change. However, unfortunately, I have seen many situations where resistance to change is used as an excuse, a crutch even, to make the case for not changing to improve. I use QWERTYUIOP as an illustration only because it’s something everyone can identify with … I must admit that I too would fall apart if we made a shift to a keyboard that was organized in alphabetical order :)!

  3. I can totally resonate with what you said, Merge. I am working in a organization that is so against to any change, even when it means to increase productivity, or simply the old method not longer feasible to practice. Any new suggestion will get the same reply “This is how we have been doing since we started”. No offense, while the old methods might have worked for them last time, it is now becoming ridicule to execute.

    1. Sylvia, there’s an old saying “people only change when the pain of where they are becomes greater than the pain of where they might be” which I think has some real wisdom. I suspect that it applies in the case of where you work. Until what’s happening now becomes SO painful that they have/want to change, they are completely happy with the status quo, no matter how inefficient or unproductive it might be. Don’t give up though … and good luck!

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