ramp meter

Let's add Zumba to the list of activities to which new people should be added slowly, one at a time-- like the ramp meters on 66.  I just finished my first (last?) class. Motivated by boredom with the treadmill and curiosity about how many steps I'd score with my fitbit, I gave it a shot. The mid-morning class was precisely and perfectly timed between two client meetings.  *Side note: Have you been to the gym at 10:30am?  It's all retirees!  I don't know why this surprised me but appraently this is where they all go before heading over to Panera for an early lunch of soup and black coffee. 

Anyway, after entering the studio and finding a space in the back, I issued a disclaimer to the group.  "Hi, I'm new."  In retrospect, this fact became so immediately and intensely obvious that it really didn't need to be said. So, everything probably would have been fine if another newbie wasn't positioned so close to me. As the bouncing and bopping started, it was actually remarkable how uniformly out-of-sync we were with the rest of the group.  Effectively,  efficiently, and completely unintentionally, we threw off the whole vibe.

Some processes are so strong and groups so well established that adding a handful of new folks doesn't matter. Others are incredibly fragile. One or two new people performing off cue (despite their desire to do it right) messes up the whole group. Zumba, I've learned, falls in this latter category-- as do grocery self-checkout and EZPass lanes.

And, since this is a blog on organizational performance after all, I'll throw in a work example-- status-ing anything. Your schedule, your progress report, your team's vacation calendar, whatever.  I support a client's bi-weekly project management office (PMO) meeting during which we review the progress on dozens of interrelated activities. The group needed to expand. So, a handful of new folks joined recently and threw off the rhythm-- lessening the benefit for that week and frustrating all involved. In the future, a better approach would be to more thoroughly establish the process, then invite new folks to join the flow from the on ramp, one at a time.