If I asked you to close your eyes and think of an umbrella, I wouldn’t know what colour that umbrella might be, but I’m pretty sure I could describe the basic design.
I was fascinated, therefore, to learn that a company, in the Netherlands, has come up with a completely new design for the umbrella. It was developed by Dutch company Senz, founded by former students of Delft University. They wanted to make an umbrella that was storm and windproof.
The new umbrella is weirdly angled, with one shorter side and one longer one connected at a 135-degree angle. The shorter end is the front, and the longer part is the tail. The designer, Gerwin Hoogendoorn says that the umbrella works so well because it mimics the aerodynamic shape of a stealth bomber.
Many of us will have experienced trying to open an umbrella, on a windy day only to have it turn inside out and the Senz model solves that problem, too. Also, there’s less fabric to wrap up, so the umbrella travels surprisingly well. The spokes are reinforced, and the stem is quite short, which eases the strain on your wrist and Senz claims it can handle 100kmh winds. Apparently, it’s become very popular, in Holland.
When you consider that the Encyclopédie Méthodique mentions metal ribs at the end of the eighteenth century, and they were also on sale in London during the 1780s it would appear that time for a re-design was way overdue. This got me wondering about things, in general, that might benefit from an overhaul. Could there be a better design for a tea cup, a sunshade, a barbecue, a space rocket?
The possibilities are infinite. We may be frustrated by a teapot that dribbles or a can opener that’s awkward to operate, but, even though we could find something more efficient already on the market, sometimes it’s just easier to accept things the way they are, if they appear to be working adequately enough.
Then I started thinking about less tangible things. What about the space we occupy, both at home and at work, could the way we use it benefit from a re-design. Do you park your vehicle on the road because your garage is full of “stuff” and have to waste precious time, in winter, de-icing it? Are your kitchen work tops cluttered because you have items in the cupboards that you might only get out at Christmas or Thanksgiving? It might be an idea to box them up and put them in the attic or under the bed.
The same thing could be said about our work spaces. Have you used those spaces in the same way for years? Do you have space that’s not being used? Would employees benefit from having things moved around? Is that photocopying machine easily accessible for everyone? Are employees eating lunch at their desks?
Do you really need an extra board room that’s only used for a few hours a week, when there’s not enough space for employees to enjoy their lunch in comfort? Then there’s the issue of how we use our time. Could that also benefit from an overhaul? Think about the way meetings are formatted. Does the way annual reviews are conducted need reformatting?
How about the forms we are required to complete. Are all those questions telling us anything we don’t already know? Are we duplicating too much information? Do we have too many employees working on a task when their time would be better used elsewhere? Perhaps the design of your website could benefit from an update. Does your company logo look dated? The questions are endless.
Just as Senz has created a new design for the umbrella, redesigning or overhauling aspects of your home or working life may be solving a variety of issues that affect the way you or your business operate. You might already have a very efficient work space. You may have already decluttered your home. You may be super-efficient at managing your time and not feel that anything in your life needs changing. But, if you are a leader, in business, take a moment to look around and make sure it’s not only working for you but your colleagues and employees too.
You may not feel the need to redesign anything. Everything may appear to be working well and efficiently, but it doesn’t hurt to check.