Do you ever wonder how the standard newspaper size came to be?
Freek Vermeulen, author of “Business Exposed:The naked truth about what really goes on in the world of business”,asked this question at Guardian, UK’s premier newspaper company. Curiously enough, nobody seemed to know. He continued to ask anybody and everybody in the newsprint industry and nobody had a clue!
Britain has a well-preserved history.Freek dug into archives at public libraries. After combing through the pages of history, he came up with a stunning answer! In 1712,a taxation law was introduced to tax newspapers based on the number of pages they carried.Newspaper wanted to pack more info in less pages.And thus the standard newspaper size was born! This tax law was abolished in 1855. And yet, for more than 300 years now, the standard newspaper size has remained the same!
Customers did like a smaller format: more convenient to hold and carry.Rarely have they been asked & though there have been instances of newpapers trying out smaller formats, the standard size rules! This size is also more expensive to produce than other smaller formats.
This is a classic instance of industry practices that have their roots in obscure history, which then become so much a part of our collective consciousness that we take it to an eternal constant.
Another such management practise is ‘command and control’ It is the armed forces that first organized people on a mammoth scale. ‘Command and control’ was the most effective way to mobilize,forward-deploy & control armies. Business & other organizations had only the army prototype to go by for historical precedent. And they picked up ‘command & control’ as the way to manage people. And how it has stuck! Inspite of all the evidence in the world that shows its limitations, organizations & leaders are yet to shake off the ‘command & control’ mindset.
What industry practices have you taken on board? When was the last time you scrutinized them for their relevance? Closer home, what organizational practise dates back to obscure company history that you have rarely gone into? Explore how it has locked you into a design-trap: a pattern of results made possible because organizational structures & processes are perfectly designed for yielding the pattern.