The Pile for February 8, 2010

The Pile is our weekly guide to what we’re reading to become better managers.


It's reassuring when we see something featured in our pages enjoy a life later on in other publications. One of the standouts of our special report on design thinking last year was Donald A. Norman's Designing Waits That Work. So we were delighted over the weekend when the Ideas section of our hometown newspaper featured Standing in Line, an argument that waiting is good for you.

Your editors are finding notes on lines everywhere. You probably have better things to do that reread Universal Principles of Design by William Lidwell, Kritina Holden, and Jill Butler, but than's exactly what we did last week, happily. As in Norman's essay (an unabridged version of which, called "The Psychology of Waiting Lines," is available here as a PDF) devotes much of its attentions to amusement parks, places where the managers have had to think hard about how best to manage waiting:

"Theme park rides often have very long lines--so long that seeing the lines in their entirety would scare away many would-be visitors. Therefore, modern theme park rides progressively disclose the length of the line ... additional distractions are provided in the form of video screens, signage, and partial glimpses of people on the ride."

On a barely related note (Norman once spoke at TED, so we'll make that the segue), we're headed to the TED conference this week. Coverage on this blog will kick off late Wednesday night. (Here's a link for those of you who want to relive last year's coverage.)