It wouldn’t seem like such a big deal to stop using capital letters in your communication and switch to the traditional upper and lower case, but for the National Weather Service, the change has been 20 years in the making!

Beginning yesterday, the National Weather Service now provides weather forecasts in mixed-case reports instead of ONLY IN CAPITAL LETTERS LIKE IT HAS BEEN DOING SINCE IT BEGAN. Weather reports originated in upper case when they were transmitted via teleprinters, and it has taken this long for some of the machinery to finally be phased out.  It seems ironic that the agency who uses sophisticated computer models to generate the forecast would still rely on antiquated equipment to share that information, but such is the case.

Despite the fact that mixed-case is standard fare for the vast majority of communications out there, the removal of ALL CAPITALS will nonetheless cause some adjustment for some people who have been reading the alternate format for decades. Meteorologist Art Thomas is quoted as saying: “It seemed strange to me until I got used to it over the course of testing the new system, but now it seems so normal.”

Isn’t that the case for most changes? You feel awkward driving on the realigned road, until a week goes by and you forget it was rerouted. You gawk in amazement at your friend’s new haircut, for the first time you see it, then it becomes a natural part of her. You struggle with the tension on a new computer keyboard, and after the first page it becomes familiar.

Take two little lessons from the National Weather Service’s big transition: change can often take a very long time to happen, yet change can take a very short time to feel like normal. Use both lessons when forecasting your strategy and others’ response to it.

beth triplett

Source: National Weather Service will stop using all caps in its forecasts

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