The Cardiovascular Equipment Sign-Up System

Latest posts by Sam Carpenter (see all)

Here’s a remove-the-system-altogether scenario. It’s the ultimate in simplifying things. My staff and I take delight in chucking unnecessary Centratel protocols. System-elimination is great to see in personal life, too. 

The cardio room at the gym where I work out is equipped with dozens of treadmills, step climbers, and stationary bikes. It’s a busy place, so queuing up to use any of these machines was done by noting one’s initials, the desired start-up time, and the machine number on a sign-up board. It seemed sensible to use this procedure in order to promote efficiency and prevent conflict.

All club members knew the logic of the system and in the course of any given day, hundreds of us took the time to sign up for the various machines we wanted.  

Then one day the sign-up board disappeared without explanation. Why did the new club manager remove this logical, order-inducing system without so much as a warning? Probably because the sign-up board was a classic Rube Goldberg creation that attempted to cure a problem that didn’t exist. 

The sign-up board had been duplicating—and therefore complicating—a system that was already in place: the system known as common courtesy.   

The system of common courtesy is a mutual agreement regarding actions between people. The fundamental rule is person A will have consideration for person B, and fairness rules. If people abide by the common courtesy system, seldom will conflict or confusion occur. Step out of the system, and there will be trouble. The common courtesy rule in the cardio room is if person A is using a machine, it will be available to person B only after Person A is finished. For human interaction in neutral situations, this is the familiar “first come, first served” principle. “One takes second position to the one who is already there.” If it is important to use a certain machine, one will wait until it is available. That is the absurdly simple rule. That is the system.   

Obviously, “common courtesy” is a system that lies outside-and-slightly-elevated from minute-to-minute goings-on. It’s a collection of unwritten rules—a system— that supersedes immediate personal ambitions. Common courtesy is the most fundamental and rigid social system in our culture. Today’s common courtesy system is a beautiful thing, much improved over Neanderthal days when the lack of it caused strangers to be killed. Things have improved!

Sam Carpenter is author of the book, Work The System: The Simple Mechanics of Working Less and Making More.

Previous Article

3 Ways to Avoid Financial Worries Right Now

Next Article

Looking for America's Next Big Idea! Calling All Inventors....See you in Las Vegas Oct 18th!

Related Posts
Read More

WJR Business Beat: Job Switchers Rewarded with Higher Pay (Episode 406)

On today's Business Beat, Jeff Sloan talks about how it's going to be more difficult and costly for small businesses to hire the best talent because job switchers during the pandemic have seen significant salary hikes. Tune in to today's Business Beat for more:   Tune in to News/Talk 760 AM WJR weekday mornings at...
startup team
Read More

5 Strategies for Building a Great Startup Team

The way you treat your employees, their time, skills and abilities in the early phases of your union as a team influences the rest of your company's course of action. Mark Zuckerberg once said, "The most important thing for you as an entrepreneur trying to build something is, you need to build a really good...
pitch videos
Read More

How Pitch Videos Can Help Your Startup Get Funding

When you’re about to launch a startup, gaining the interest and support of startup investors is an important element in becoming a successful brand. These days, videos are a great way of communicating information and landing you anything from seed funding to crowdfunding. After all, a great pitch video can grab your investors’ and consumers’...
Read More

A Q&A with Ryan Close of Bartesian: Creating and Marketing a Game Changer

Bartesian started as a dream for Ryan Close. But in just a few years, his cocktail company had 975% year-over-year growth and more than $50 million in sales. The business is a media darling and has been featured in such publications as Forbes, Esquire, People and others. And not just every product lands on Oprah's...