Rocket Science

The argument had taken somewhat of a harsh turn. Bull Terrier, who comes by his name honestly, growled something not quite off a Valentine card. The techie he faced was frustrated that his brilliant algorithm was being wasted on a sales grunt.

At issue was a dashboard the tech created that would measure the sales performance of a new line of industrial security products. The dashboard was built around a series of metrics that went far beyond merely sales volume and margins. Bull argued that their customers don’t want all this information, that they have their own way of measuring results, that too much technology turns them off. The answer to that was that customers could easily cherry-pick the metrics they found useful and ignore the rest. But for those that appreciate having more information so that they can make better decisions, we will have a distinct advantage over our competitors.

The argument soon became esoteric.

You have designed in retro rockets. The customer needs wheels.

“You have built a rocket ship,” Bull said in a rather exasperated tone. “The customer wants a car. The customer wants to drive to the grocery store, not fly to the moon.”

“The customer already has a car,” the techie replied with matching exasperation. “He doesn’t need us to give him another one. We are giving him a way to fly to the moon, something he doesn’t already have.”

“The customer doesn’t know how to pilot a rocket ship.”

“That’s where you come in. You will teach him to become a pilot. Do your job.”

“ Your job,” responded Bull angrily, “is to give the customer what he wants.”

“We are a technology company. Our job is not to give the customer what he wants but what he will soon learn that he needs.”

“What he needs!? You have designed in retro rockets. The customer needs wheels.”

The techie looked at Bull with a blank expression. “Why would a rocket have wheels?”

There is a Japanese proverb that says: Too much is just the same as too little. I heard it in the context of arranging flowers, the art of which, in Japan, is called Ikebana. I think it also works well in the context of this exchange.

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