The Obvious is Easy to Miss 

There are many great optical illusions. Here’s one.

Stare at the dot in the center. In just a few seconds, the colors are gone (or at least dramatically faded away. 

Disappearing Color Spots Illusion.jpg

 Neat trick. What’s the point?

It’s really easy for the things we see everyday to fade away and become invisible to us. 

Pittsburgh is full of hills. We’ve discussed it in relation to bus drivers in the ‘Burgh and the impressive job they do navigating the windy and hilly city. But among those hills are more public staircases than in any other city - over 700 of them. We’d bet that most Pittsburghers don’t know it. 

The staircases just blend into the landscape. They’ve always been there, so we just don’t really see them. (but if you want to, check out this Stair Stepping and Cider Sipping Tour!)

This is what makes the Ross Prize for Cities, an award that honors projects that are tangibly improving lives for residents, such an interesting concept. It’s not about the big stand-out projects. It’s about the smaller things that make lives better. Often, these are the types of projects that are ignored or unseen. 

Fast Company brings us the story of this year’s winner - a program called School Area Road Safety Assessments and Improvements (SARSAI) from a nonprofit called Amend

In sub-Saharan Africa, a child crossing the street to get to school is twice as likely to be hit by a vehicle than a kid anywhere else in the world. They often have to traverse the longest distances from their home to their classroom by foot, and due to the lack of pedestrian-safety infrastructure like sidewalks, frequently dodge in and out of the paths of cars and trucks. Even though the region is home to just 2% of the world’s vehicles, it accounts for 16% of global traffic deaths–and children are disproportionately affected.

To win the prize, Amend made many small-seeming changes - striped crosswalks, signs, protective bollards, sidewalks, and speed bumps. It’s worked incredibly well. “Around schools where SARSAI has directed its efforts, the student injury rate has dropped over 25% on average.”

It’s a fantastic reminder that making positive changes doesn’t have to come from the big and flashy stuff. Taking small and discrete steps to improve can be hugely valuable. 

We see this all the time with Customer Experience planning. It’s so important to do, and can seem like such a daunting task because so much must be done to perfect it. Fortunately, there are ways to start tackling the challenge in small and impactful ways. We have a framework that has seen great success.