The World’s Greatest Hobby on Tour (WGH) visited the Indiana State Fairgrounds. And, while the train displays were quite impressive, I found myself mesmerized more by the unproductive exhibits consumed by crowds.
Having worked for nearly five years in the tradeshow industry, I can say with confidence that exhibit halls are typically chaotic. So, it was no surprise to me when I entered to find thousands of people scrambling around booths like disoriented ants in a colony. And though the trip from booth A to booth B, display 1 to display 2 seemed a far greater task than it truly needed to be, we still managed to keep our cool.
Yet, with each stop, I couldn’t help but think: there are so many ways to increase workplace productivity here.
One display was as impressive as they come. It was the most elaborate LEGO land I’d ever seen! From rolling mountains to beaches, major cities to small towns, the immense exhibit had everything. Yet, viewing it was strenuous. After fifteen minutes of weaving in and out of people, we finally managed to squeeze in close enough to see.
Even still, the opportunity to view more than 10% of the elaborate set-up was close to impossible. Only part of one side of the layout was accessible! We moved on.
The next exhibit was far less crowded. As we came to one end of the display, we saw flashing lights and lots of moving parts—surely the highlight of the entire booth. Yet, there we were, just yards away, unable to get a good view. In front of us was an older man discussing a topic with one of the booth attendants. At first I thought he’d briefly ask his questions and move forward, but that was far from his plan. Instead, he casually talked to the attendant about articles he’s read and places he’s been—nothing, mind you, having to do with the display itself.
His unwavering position left us no choice. We finally decided to go around him and peek over his shoulders. Ten minutes later, I saw him still standing there with people staggering him on all sides. Fifteen minutes later, he hadn’t moved an inch. The blatant insensitivity of the gentleman and the booth attendant was infuriating. Their actions were not only upsetting potential customers and paying attendees, but inhibiting the exhibit’s overall productivity.
Being aware of our surroundings can have a major impact on our productivity. Take, for instance, the LEGO display. I watched many people relieve their frustration with the crowd by simply walking away. Yet, as I later discovered, the exhibit had more than just trains. They were selling merchandise and marketing a product. If only the booth attendants were more aware of their surroundings, they would have recognized that the disorganized crowds were actually inhibiting rather than encouraging small business productivity and satisfaction.
In the case of the “human statue” it’s a shame he failed to recognize the nuisance he’d become. But, the blame is really on the attendant who could see what was happening, but chose to ignore it. After all, how hard would it have been to ask the gentleman to walk over to a less crowded area to finish the conversation? By focusing in on one patron, the attendant neglected dozens of others—an action that probably lost his booth business.
It’s easy to become consumed with one area of a task or project. But it’s important to be aware that doing so can weigh heavy upon other supporting factors. So, if you are looking to increase productivity in your office, take the time to recognize valuable components in a process; particularly those that facilitate a productive workflow and improve business. You’ll be glad you did.