Experiment to Resolution

March 22, 2012

By Laurie Clarke, COO, The Tatham Group

My husband is a closet technology geek.  In his downtime he dabbles in computer programming.  He enjoys the challenge and I appreciate the Jetson-esque ease of an automated home.

Yesterday he was explaining to me the ‘behind the scenes’ workings of our entertainment system.  I politely nodded my head and confirmed “All I will have to do to use it is push one button, right?”  During his presentation, a screen popped up that asked to calibrate the TV in the event you play 3D media with the Playstation.  This prompted me to ask if there were any 3D games for preschoolers, which led to my husband explaining that the Playstation isn’t capable of playing 3D media.

The debate began.  He had technical information, input from media experts and knowledge of electronics to support his argument.  I was bringing common sense to the table – why would it ask to calibrate the TV if it wasn’t a feature?  A bit of back of forth brought us no closer to an answer.  Finally he said, “I know how to settle this.  Lets try it!”  And out comes the Avatar Blu Ray.  Which played brilliantly with full effect.  I do love a well-executed experiment!

This exchange reinforced a few observations from my work with businesses as well.

  1. Technology folks want acknowledgement and appreciation for how difficult their work is.  Users just care about it being easy – and how quickly it will be working.  I’ll admit to also being interested in the final cost.
  2. Often the technical data and support is overwhelming when an issue is raised.  Even verified by experts.  Sometimes they are wrong.  Applying common sense can at least open things up for discussion.  Always ask the opposing questions.  It’ll only serve to confirm the predetermined answer or bring you to a better one.
  3. Nothing ends a debate faster than an experiment. Seeing is believing.  We have found that almost every situation can be tested with an experiment from rocket science, chemotherapy treatment, and account opening to testing the 3D capability of a game console.
  4. Just doing it costs less time, emotion and money than talking about things over and over again.  Leaving thousands of decisions and loops open is exhausting for the brain.  And kills productivity and innovation.  Roll up your sleeves and get working on ending the discussions in an indisputable manner – through your own experience.

As I put my feet up, I dimmed the lights, turned on the TV, receiver and Avatar with a push of a button.  I got lost in the magical world of Pandora and wondered what it would be like if more businesses resolved disputes this way.  My guess is there would be a whole lot less meeting and a lot more enjoyment of engaging work.