A few years ago, whilst visiting Swindon here in the UK, I came across a traffic junction, the like of which I have never seen before or since.
It has become known as the ‘magic roundabout’ after the TV show of the same name and, as you can see from the sign, it is a roundabout of roundabouts.
Whoever thought that would be a good idea?
Sometimes, you just have to wonder at how something so completely ridiculous ever managed to get through the planning stages. Can you imagine sitting at the council meeting when someone produced the drawing of this thing for the first time and said, “I’ve got a great idea!”
Well, I don’t know whether people fell about laughing or what but, surely, after they had regained their composure and finally managed to get back onto their chairs, you would expect that sanity would have prevailed. But, no. Clearly, enough people thought it would be a good idea – and these people are running the city?
It has been named as the world’s worst traffic junction in a UK motoring magazine and one of the 10 scariest traffic junctions in the UK according to a BBC report. But, apparently locals have no difficulty with it despite the fact that the traffic flow on the inner roundabout runs counter-clockwise and on all the mini-roundabouts the traffic flow runs in the normal clockwise direction.
No doubt you know Hans Christian Anderson’s story about the Emperor’s new clothes in which everybody kept quiet about the Emperor being naked because they did not want to appear to be stupid. If everyone else could see the Emperor’s clothes, the fault, they all reasoned, must be with themselves. So everybody simply pretended to see them.
In the story, it took a young boy to finally announce that the Emperor was naked. After that, the people began to lose their inhibitions and everyone realised that the boy was, in fact, right – he was naked.
Some years ago, when I worked for a UK computer company (Apricot), we launched our first portable computer. I was caught up with the technology. It had voice recognition; very innovative at the time. It had a full size flat LCD screen; the first on the market. It had a detached infra-red keyboard and mouse. All highly innovative.
Because I worked for the international division at the time, I was sitting with the Singapore distributor at an internal pre-launch briefing. When I turned to him, following the impressive presentation, and asked him what he thought of the new product, he said he thought the product would not sell. His view was that it was nether a desktop not a truly portable computer and so it would miss both markets. It takes guts to do that. But do you know something? He was right.
Sometimes, we need to do that. Sometimes we need to be the person who is courageous enough to see the truth for what it is and face the issue squarely. We need to be bold enough to speak authentically. We need to be the person who stands up at the council meeting and says, “this is a ridiculous idea!”