We’ve seen massive advancements in technology, but there’s one tool that has remained constant: the keyboard we use. 150 years after its invention, we’re still using the same old QWERTY keyboard.
And there’s loads of scale lessons we can all learn:
150 years ago, newspaper editor Christopher Latham Sholes was granted a patent for a typewriter. The problem with his first machine was that the keyboard was arranged alphabetically (as you’d expect). But as operators learned to type at speed it was discovered that the metal arms bearing each character became entangled.
Sholes and his partner studied the problem and worked out which letters were most often used. They then put them as far apart as possible on a new keyboard, reducing the chance of clashing arms, and the QWERTY keyboard was born.
As well as preventing jamming, this new sequence resulted in faster typing, and increased productivity.
Understanding Customer Behaviour…
New keyboards have emerged over the years (some of which were tested and found to be faster) but none have challenged QWERTY’s dominance.
When QWERTY came to popularity, it was the only one of its kind. This meant all typists were trained in QWERTY.
It became the norm.
And as you know, people are generally resistant to change, particularly if it requires significant effort. (Note, this cannot be confused with brand loyalty – it’s more inertia).
Whether or not QWERTY keyboards are the fastest typing available, thanks to their ease of use and widespread integration into apps and devices, it seems they’ll be here for another century or so.
This week I want you to think about:
- What productivity gains are there in your products/services that you’re not exploiting?
- How easy are your offerings to use?
- Are there ways you can embed your products into your market more i.e. training, technology, partnerships etc.
- Are your customers loyal to your brand, or is it merely inertia that keeps them returning? If inertia, you need to think of ways of converting this to loyalty.
Investor | Business Mentor at Advocate | Author of I don’t work Fridays