Wednesday, March 8, 2017

“If you’re not confused, you’re not paying attention.”

~ Tom Peters, Thriving on Chaos: Handbook for a Management Revolution

We spent time at the hospital yesterday–one of a herd of confused people looking for rooms, looking for people, looking for someone to ask a question of, and generally just wandering around lost and bewildered.

There is a new parkade. It’s nice, as far as parkades go, once you figure out where and how to pay for parking. The challenge begins after you’ve paid and are ready to go to from the parkade to the hospital. The signage refers to something called a CSB because saying hospital would, you know, make sense. (I later figured out that CSB stands for Clinical Services Building–aka the hospital.)

We got there eventually, took care of what needed taking care of, and walked back through the covered walkway that was about 112 degrees Fahrenheit toward the temple of confusion: the elevators. We dutifully remembered that we had parked on level P3 but that knowledge didn’t help answer that first and very important question: did we need to go up or did we need to go down?

There was a sign next to the elevator meant to clear up the mystery. As I stood looking at it, one of many confused souls trying to sort it all out, I felt my brain twist uncomfortably. Thanks to Gerry we figured out where we needed to go, pressed the appropriate button, and tried to help others as we waited for the elevator.

I contemplated the sign, looked around and got my bearings (that’s when I figured out that CSB meant hospital), and took in how utterly confusing it all was. I considered snapping a photo of the sign, going home and drafting something that makes more sense, and taping it on the wall beside the elevator next time I return. It was, after all, one of the things I enjoyed most about my career as a business analyst: bringing clarity from confusion. I think I might be able to do it.

Then I realized that they pay people to do things like that and I’m not one of them. I just hope that some talented soul recognizes the need and takes action. The hospital–or CSB, as we apparently call it around here–is a place of confusion and chaos at the best of times. Surely someone can make the simple act of parking easier for those who need to be there.


I’m a writer, reader, and creative. I thought by now I’d have things figured out, but I keep coming up with more questions. I think that’s okay. I’m here most mornings pondering ordinary things.
  1. In my previous life in healthcare we were encouraged to print all documents in language at 5th grade level- for ease of understanding. I fielded many a call about confusing signage and occasionally logic prevailed and language on signs changed.
    Maybe an artfully penned missive to the powers that be…?

  2. I wish you would put up your sign! The last time I went to the hospital to visit a friend, I had to check in at the front desk (after wandering for about 5 minutes), had to ask which elevators, got off the elevators, had to ask for directions again. And still got turned around.

    1. I suppose the fact that they are confusing is a blessing, of sorts, because it means we haven’t spent enough time there for it to become familiar. Given the alternative, I’ll take the confusion. (I just thought of that!)

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