Roll the Dice, Classwork, It's Obvious
The State of Nevada has changed the requirements to get a driver’s license. They have removed the part of the driving test that asks the driver to parallel park. Seems that this is the part of the test most failed by the prospective driver. So, naturally, why not just remove it?
According to a story over on parknews.biz, the Nevada DMV says that they are doing this to help reduce wait times in their offices, since failing the test requires applicants to return and take the test again, thus clogging up the system. That makes perfect sense to me.
We could change the rules on a lot of tests to cut down on paperwork and retaking the test. If a surgeon had a problem with say, implanting a heart valve, just don’t ask him or her to do it on a test. Then all those pesky retakes would be absolved.
How about the test for lawyers? All those questions about the constitution. Why even ask? Who needs to know about such legal niceties as ex post facto and testifying against oneself? Think how quickly one could sail through the test without those questions.
Our PEOs are tasked with writing tickets for those who, among other things, are improperly parked. So, I didn’t park within 18 inches of the curb. So what? No one ever told me I had to do so. There was nothing on the driving test about parking. So therefore, we might as well remove that law from the books and just let people park wherever and however they want. So, it’s a parallel space, why not just pull in and let your rear end stick out in the traffic lanes?
The driving test authorizes someone to manipulate two tons of steel down the street. To drive it up to seventy miles an hour, to weave in and out of traffic. Why shouldn’t they be required to know how to park it properly? Hell, they might flunk the test and have to take it again, thus causing all those problems for the DMV.
I actually bumped into another car and broke a headlight when I took my first driving test. I was parallel parking. The tester told me that they stopped the test whenever there was an accident. But I could come back another day and try again. That I should practice a bit on my parking. So, I futzed around in the high school parking lot parallel parking until I got it right, then went back, aced the test and got my license. I’m a better driver for it.
With all the accidents, fender benders and worse, I’m not sure we shouldn’t make the test harder rather than easier. Maybe this lowering of requirements is best tested in Nevada. After all that’s where you go to “roll the dice.”
“We encourage them to go above and beyond their class work anyway, if you just do your classwork we don’t feel you’re as prepared as you could be when you hit the workforce,” Terry Griffin, computer science associate professor said (emphasis mine). Granted this is a computer geek talking, but doesn’t he understand just how stupid this sounds.
The story was about Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls, Texas, and how some engineering students were using AI and other techniques to develop an app that could predict which lots had spaces available any particular time and then let students know where they should be parking.
The project took four years and the professors were proud of their students and the result. As we see from the first paragraph above, this wasn’t a part of normal classwork, but something the students did in their spare time. Fair Enough.
However, if the teachers acknowledge that what the students learn in normal class work doesn’t prepare you for entering the work force, don’t they think some adjustment to the curriculum might be in order?
Although it may seem obvious, I think we oftentimes miss it. We tell ourselves that everyone knows it, but do they really? I think many projects and organizations fail because individuals don’t understand it.
People need to know, to be told, and to be supported in understanding just what their job is, what their goal is and just what their organization is trying to accomplish. Far too often, we are dropped into organizations where the leadership assumes that those on board know exactly what they are supposed to do, or they are assigned so many tasks that they can’t separate the chaff from the wheat.
This is particularly true in small companies. Often, we think that we can assign many tasks to individuals because one or two aren’t enough to fill their time. After we get finished with the assignments, those who are assigned the work are overwhelmed and spend their time stirring the pot rather than succeeding.
In the military, we learn that we have a mission. It is assigned by the President, and the leadership know exactly what it is. When that occurs, the members of the armed forces go out and do what it takes to succeed. World War II is a prime example of that.
However, when the mission is confused, or when the military is restricted in carrying out its orders, things seems to drag, and from the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs to the squad leader on the front line, hesitation and confusion reigns. We saw that in Vietnam, where we won nearly every battle, but lost the war.
In our organizations we need someone in charge of each thing we are doing who thinks it's his or her job to make it happen. They must, at all costs, succeed and reach an assigned goal. They must know when they reach it, and be rewarded for reaching it.
If they have multiple tasks and multiple goals, they will surely fail, or at best, revel in mediocrity.
You have two choices. Hire people to focus on each task and succeed at it, or reduce the number of tasks.
There is no other way.