This is a fun article about a tradition in the Japanese railway system known as "shisa kanko." That's the process of conductors in their white gloves pointing-and-calling when doing tasks, even the most basic and simple ones. It's based on the concept of "associating one’s tasks with physical movements and vocalizations" in order to present making mistakes by “raising the consciousness levels of workers.” In some ways, though it might seem the silliest of all, it's the simplest tasks where shisa kanko is most valuable, since those are the jobs that are easiest to take for granted, get bored doing, and let slip.
It's apparently very successful in Japan and has increased productivity and safety significantly. But it hasn't caught on elsewhere around the world because workers seem to think it's...well, really silly, and feel foolish doing it. Pointing and calling out their action, even the most ordinary ones.
The article points out that there's one notable exception -- of all place, New York City’s MTA subway system,. There, "conductors have used a modified point-only system since 1996 after then Chief Transportation Officer Nathaniel Ford was fascinated by the point-and-call system during a business trip to Japan. In the MTA’s case, conductors point to a fixed black-and-white “zebra board” to confirm a stopped train is correctly located along the platform."
And the thing is, the New York conductors adapted to it quite well, and in only two years, "incidents of incorrectly berthed subways fell 57 percent."
You can read the full article by Allan Richarz here, along with some more videos and graphics. It's definitely odd -- but oddly fun.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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