The iPad Revolution – What To Expect From Now On

A little over three decades ago Bill Gates introduced to his dream of “a computer on every desk in every home”. Yes, the dream came true… but as more of a nightmare. We all have computers and we all hate them. They freeze, they crash, they are hard to use, they never work right the first time, they spy on us, steal our information, and never think they way we do. Now, after years of living like abused spouses with our technology, Steve Jobs has come to save the day. The iPad is going to start a revolution to such a magnitude that, in my opinion, Steve Jobs himself may not even grasp.

Geeks everywhere have logged their protests at the iPad lack of revolutionary technology. It is criticized as an oversized iPhone, and an less functional netbook. I think the point that people are missing is the iPad isn’t a new toy for geeks, it is a computer for non-geeks. The iPhone has gained so much popularity because it is so easy to use for the average consumer, so it just makes sense to expand that platform to a larger platform.

The fallout from the iPad won’t be felt right away, but it will be something we look back on in 5 years a monumental shift in consumer technology to the same degree, if not more so, that we now look back on the iPhone as a breakthrough for smartphones and PDAs. Once consumers get their hands on the iPad, and start using it for Internet, email, and multimedia, they won’t ever want to go back to traditional computers ever again.

Computers today do one major thing wrong… they do everything. When you buy a computer you presented with an open environment upon which the computer demands that you figure it out from there. Having a “customizable” operating system is just another way of saying “your on your own”. For geeks, like me, this is great. There are no rules, and we can make our computers do whatever we want. For consumers, it sucks. They stare blankly at a screen full of options, icons, and artifacts until their brain pops and they call me asking me to come over and set their computer up for them.

The iPad, like the iPhone, works the moment you turn it on and guides you, ever so cheerfully, through whatever task you are trying to perform. The only buttons you see are the ones you need to see, and there is little room to get lost. Beyond that, Apple has a done a great job of encouraging (read “forcing”) developers to mimic their user-friendly design when making new apps. All this making each task simply a new button on your screen, all working with a touch of your finger.

So three decades after the first so-called “personal computer”, Steve Jobs has given us the real first personal computer with the iPad. As “that guy you call when your computer breaks” I personally can’t wait to replace every computer my friends and family own with an iPad. I look forward for 5 years from now when only geeks and developers like me actually buy open platform computers, and the everyday consumer finally has a no-hassle window to the Information age.

Talent Is not Enough

While it may seem obvious, it continues to surprise me how the most talented individuals often do not make good employees. While we pride ourselves on having exceptionally low turn-over for our industry, we have still had our share of people who just do not work out. So for all you talented people out there, please learn that your raw talent just isn't enough to do much more than work for yourself.

Being Talented Doesn’t Mean You Still Don't Have Problems

Are you the world’s most creative designer? Can you program a thousand lines of code with your eyes closed? Good, it’s a start. Next you need to learn how to talk to clients, communicate clearly with your co-workers, show up to work and meetings on time, and accurately put your hours in. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses. Your strengths make you good, but overcoming your weaknesses makes you great.

I Don’t Care How Good You Are if You Are a Jerk

One of the most important part of MY job is to make sure my employees more or less like coming to work, and enjoy working here. If I have more employees than just you, I can’t employ you if you are a jerk. Do you constantly rub your talent in and belittle others? Do you insert yourself into other people’s conversations? Do you constantly argue about sensitive politic and/or religious issues at all times of the day? Do you pretty much fail at every opportunity to let others know you respect them? You’re fired.

Finding Problems Is NOT as Smart as Finding Solutions

I am continually surprised at how often people pat themselves on the back for pointing out a problem. The reality is that EVERYONE KNOWS THE PROBLEMS! Every business has its problems, inefficiencies, issues, etc. You get no points for being clever for pointing them out. If you really want to look smart, offer some ideas on how to fix problems. If you want to look like a genius, fix the problem first and then tell everyone.

You Don’t Have to Work Here

No matter how good you are, I can find someone to fill your job. If you hate working here, leave. If I hear from your co-workers constant negative feedback about things you hate about your job, the company, or others, I am going to do you a favor and let you go. If you are as talented, as smart, as creative, and just so damn awesome as you think you are, you will have no problem getting a job anywhere you want. Go live your dreams, and end our nightmare.

Why Opinions Ruin Everything

There is nothing more beautiful, or more powerful, than coming together to solve a problem. When we get frustrated, infuriated or slightly homicidal during a meeting it is because something is getting in the way of solving the problem at hand. Ironically, the worst resource for solving a problem is also our most abundant: opinions. Opinions represent our worst collaborative habits. Habits which, if we can learn to break, will greatly increase our collective productivity.

Anatomy of a Problem

A problem exists in the absence of understanding. Problems cause us pain, if we understood them we would have already solved them. If we have not solved a problem, we must not understand it.

“But wait!” you say, “I know what my problem is!” That may be, but knowing about something does not mean you understand it. I know my head hurts, but I probably don’t really understand the biology behind my headache. If I did understand the biology behind my headache, I would be able to take action to avoid it or stop it. If you have a lingering problem, it is because you may be aware of it, but you don’t understand it.

When we meet together to solve a problem, the only productive goal of the meeting is to first completely understand a problem and then devise steps to address it. Of course, many of us miss even this first step, making our meetings about passing around blame for a problem, denying the problem or complaining about a problem. Opinions live and thrive in all these alternative agendas, but we are going to focus on the less obvious problem with opinions.

So the first step of solving a problem is agreeing that we must first try to understand it. Most people who get to this phase feel pretty good about themselves and their maturity level. Indeed, coming together to understand a problem is a great first step. However, opinions still worm their way into our civil conversation and mess things up.

Anatomy of an Opinion

“There are no bad ideas.” seems like a good declaration to create an open environment for discussion, and it is mostly true. The problem is that opinions and ideas are not the same thing. An idea is an open ended piece of inspiration, and opinion is a closed declaration.

On the journey towards forming an understanding, there are very productive things to gather: facts, experience, insight and perspectives. We need each other to collect enough information to form an understanding of a problem. We each have different perspectives and offer different information.

A perspective says, “From my point of view, I see this.”  An opinion says, “I declare my point of view is reality.” A perspective is a helpful contribution to add another piece to the puzzle of reality, an opinion assumes it already knows reality. Most opinions are nothing more than perspectives offered up as fact.

Opinions would seek to end the journey to understanding. Worse, they create emotional confusion and wear us down during collaboration. When someone offers their perspective, it is offered with an emotional expectation to be listened to. When someone offers their opinion, it is presented with an emotional obligation to be accepted. A person’s perspective can be added to without insult, but an opinion is contradicted and usually taken with offense.

The Three Architects

Three architects are called together by the mayor to design a house upon a hill in the middle of a village. Each architect lives on a different side of the hill. One side slopes down, one side is flat and one side overlooks a waterfall. Each architect, arrogant of their talents, insists the house be designed to accommodate the hill as they know it.

The mayor gets tired of their arguing and has each draw straws to determine the order each may try and build their house. One after another they each build their version of the house, and each one collapses and is completely unstable. Finally the mayor gives up, “I can’t believe our three best architects can’t build a house on a hill.”

The village idiot finds the discarded plans of the three architects. He laughs to himself as he cuts up the three plans and tapes them together according to each side of the hill. He comes before the mayor and says he can build the greatest house the village has ever seen.  The mayor is skeptical, but agrees simply to humiliate the architects.

The house is built, and to the wonder of all, is beautiful, stable and completely innovative to take full advantage of each part of the hill.  The mayor decides to make it his own home and holds a festival in honor of the idiot, forcing the architects to host the festival in his honor.

Powerful Problem Solving

If understanding is a thousand dollar bill, then insight is a hundred, perspective is a five'r, and opinion is a penny. We need different perspectives to gain insight, we gather insight until we have understanding. Opinions are both intellectually and emotionally distracting.  The more we learn to eliminate opinions, the more effectively we work together.

If we are honest with ourselves, we can see that we use opinions to try and look smart, establish dominance or feel important, but never really to solve a problem. Our perspectives can be useful, our insights are valuable and understanding qualifies us as paid consultants, but our two cents is probably not even worth the penny we were paid for it.

The Curse of Knowledge

Recently I was exposed to a process that, unbeknownst to me, I had been performing for a long while. In fact, I didn’t even know there was a name for it. Some smart people, probably funded by a big government grant, did some research on what they call “tapping.”

The short of the experiment is this: In 1990 a Ph.D. candidate named Elizabeth Newton designed a game in which subjects had one of two rolls: “tappers” or “listeners.” Tappers received a list of 25 well-known songs, like “Happy Birthday” and “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Each tapper was asked to pick a song and tap out the rhythm to a listener (by knocking on a table). The listener’s job was to guess the song based on the tappers tapping. Sounds easy, right?

The listener’s job in this test was challenging. During the course of the experiment, 120 songs were tapped out. Listeners guessed only 3 songs correctly or just a measly 2.5% success rate.

No surprise right? But what made this research worth recognition was the next point. Before the listeners guessed the name of the song, the tappers were asked to predict the listeners probability of guessing the song correctly. Overall, the tappers predicted the probability of listeners getting the right answer at 50%. Yes, you read that correctly. The tappers thought that the listener would guess their song right half the time; while in reality, the tappers communicated successfully only 1 in 40 times, but they thought they were communicating successfully 1 in 2 times.

Researchers call this “The Curse of Knowledge.” When a tapper taps, they hear the song in their head...meanwhile the listener hears someone knocking on a table. In the end, the tappers were frustrated at how hard the listeners were trying to guess the songs, to the extent the tappers thought the listeners where stupid for not guessing the song correctly. It’s hard to be a tapper, to have the knowledge and interact with people who aren’t getting it.

So the questions you have to ask yourself:

Are you or your salespeople “tapping” to your clients?
In your sales presentations do you talk while your prospect just sits and nods?
Do you think your prospect would tell you if they didn’t understand what you are saying or just not purchase from you?
Is the content on your website just a lot of corporate speak that doesn’t clearly articulate your value?
Could that explain why your website doesn’t convert traffic well?
Next time you sit with someone just remember...the knowledge in your head might be harder for others to comprehend than you think.

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