When Tools Don’t Work

Day 363 Week 53 Q4  Thursday, December 29, 2022

You can not only waste incredible amounts of time but also ruin your creative mood and even ruin your entire day if you were planning on getting something straightforward done that you had done many times before. Sometimes you need to walk away for a while. Or do something else. Or call customer service if there is any, but then be prepared to waste an hour or more, perhaps never getting a satisfactory result.

I guess you can tell all of these have happened to me. But I am sure they have also all happened to you. We never bargained about becoming unpaid IT consultants, did we? As prices get lower the amount spent on labor also gets lower and there is a race to the bottom going on. Even costly software and tools often do not work correctly. In many industries, many companies do not care about quality. The swap of convenience for quality occurred some time ago. But when you have already compromised quality in exchange for convenience and then do not even get the convenience, it can be aggravating.

When you are creating your product, projects, prototypes, processes or enterprises, spend some time thinking about delighting your customers, staff, audience, fans or any other stakeholders. If you only think about returning shareholder value, then who, if anyone, is defending the integrity of your work product? There was a time not too long ago when founders were founders when people were fired for messing up. I worked at Bose corporation, the giant audio company. If you gave a demo and it did not work, that was it. You were gone! Being a nerdy engineer, I was always super prepared and never failed in this manner. But the turnover in marketing was astounding. Although Amar Bose had only the title chairman, he was really so tightly in control of marketing as well that we never had a VP of marketing for more than a year at a time. VP of Sales, yes; VP of Engineering, yes but marketing, no. This was interesting.

As we become increasingly interdependent, are there sufficient mechanisms to make sure what you are doing is above your personal threshold of quality and reliability? In an age when role models often do not tell the truth about who they are and what they have accomplished, it can be tempting not to hold the line. Recently a congressman was elected who lied about where he worked, where he went to school, where he got his money, if he had been married or not, his nonexistent religious background, and, near as I can tell, everything about his entire life. He reinvented and seems to have possibly gotten away with it.

Try to make people happy, not frustrated. If there is no one to protect and defend the integrity of what you are involved in, there will not be any. Yes, this takes time and costs money and energy. But if you remember how often you have been disappointed and how it felt, there is always a choice. You could say well; everyone is getting away with it, so why should I bother to uphold standards? Or you could say I will create and maintain my own standards. Part of being an outlier is you already do not fit the standard mold. 

You always have the choice of fitting in or excelling. Which will it be? Today and tomorrow. If to fit in is to be mediocre, then I would rather not fit in.

The only thing worse than when your tools don’t work is when you yourself don’t work.