It’s amazing what routine does to you. Do you remember the first time you had a driving lesson? Watch pedestrians, street signs, other cars, bicycles more or less at the same time, while following the directions of the teacher – and don’t break the speed limit or drive slower than “allowed”. Ah, not to forget shifting, turning the lights on when you enter a tunnel or it gets dark and so on and so forth.
Yes it’s quite a lot what comes, when you have your first lesson. Every human is different of course, but for the majority the routine in driving enables an automatism which allows you to drive, while your brain is in standby – remotely waiting for waking up for different reasons – a red light, cars in front of us breaking and all that. So the brain is actually able to switch off, while doing something complex as driving in Paris – that is astonishing, isn’t it?
Scientist say (and this is maybe a bit inaccurate now, because I don’t find the source of information right now) that the human brain is theoretically capable of driving 43 cars at the same time.
This routine can be dangerous. It leads to lack of active surveillance of the road, pedestrians etc. You stop seeing that what you do is quite complex – and you start to take those things for granted. You start programming your navigation system while driving, being on the mobile at the same time attending an important project meeting.
In my opinion this behavior can be easily transferred to projects as well. Imagine a routine project manager. He won’t be even recognizing that the way he sets up various processes is only for him intuitive and not time consuming, while the one without his routine might think of them as pain in the neck – actually costing more money than they bring value.
If I follow a path which I have followed often before, everything on it seems so familiar, logical and natural, that I tend to oversee that it’s actually not. It’s just a routine – and even something like driving a car can become routine, so how fast will 21 mouse clicks and 100 keystrokes will become a routine if I order with them my daily lunch? But how easy would it be to just have a one click event for the very same task?
On the other hand routine is also a good thing – you can do what you do without much thinking about it and at the same time think about other things which are connected to your automatic doing. Take dancing as an example. The first couple of times you dance, you have to think constantly about your feet and the ones you try not to tap on constantly. After a while this changes and you can actually start thinking, while your feet do the routine, about the next figures you’d like to dance with your partner – and watch out for other couples dancing into your course.
Same goes for let’s say Scrum meetings. Scrum is a routine, which follows a very predictable and easy pattern. It’s a dance, and when you stop thinking about your feet – you will be able to drive while eating, hanging on the mobile and still see when the lights turn green again. I recently started to drive and I am eagerly waiting for the moment, when everything doesn’t feels so brand new any more.