• From: Neil Doane <caine@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: technocracy@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Mon, 12 Jun 2000 13:33:03 -0700

One of the guys I work with, Don Marti, passed this on the other
day...priceless. :)


Jim Gleason and I were in Emeryville one day, and we went
into one of those monster home centar places so that Jim
could get a copy of his car key.

Jim:  Hi, I need a copy of my Honda key, please.

Clerk:  Just a minute, let me check if we can do that one.

Jim: I've never seen a key-cutting machine like that before.

Don:  It's a new, easy-to-use key-cutting machine.  Notice
it has a separate plastic block for each type of key.  You
look up the key on the chart, select the appropriate plastic
block, put the original key and the blank into the plastic
block, put the block with the keys into the machine, and
press the start button.

Jim:  They must have a lot of plastic blocks.

Don:  Yes, you can see that there's one block for each type
of key.  But the advantage of this system for the store is
that it takes less time to train someone how to use it.  On
a conventional key-cutting machine, the user has to learn
how to correctly clamp the original key and the blank onto
the machine.

Clerk: I'm sorry, we don't have that one.

Jim: It's a Honda key.  They're really common.  Can you check

Don: This machine is a lot like Windows NT -- it's intended
to replace a machine that requires skill with a machine that
requires less skill.  It's...

Jim: Just a minute, she's coming back.

Clerk: No, we don't have it.

Jim (walking out of store): Sorry, you were saying?

Don (walking out of store): I was just comparing the
key-cutting machine to Windows NT.  It makes ordinary
operations easy for unskilled people, but makes
extraordinary operations difficult for skilled people.

Jim:  I see.  If the store had a conventional key-cutting
machine, and she knew how to use it, she wouldn't have had
to find a specific block.  She could have used skill instead
of capital.

Don: But it's not in the store's interest for productive
capacity to exist in the form of employee skill that the
employee can take with her when she leaves.  They want to
make a capital investment that isn't unpredictable like a

Jim (getting into car): And that's the appeal of Windows
NT, too.  The ability to replace an administrator easily
is worth a lot, enough to make a company put up with
all Windows NT's limitations, and pay for client access

Don (getting into car): So, when selling Linux, you have to
either answer managers' objections that they won't be able
to replace their Linux guru...

Jim (driving): By promoting Linux standardization and training.

Don: Or concentrate on those companies where employee skill
is valued, not feared.

Jim: Like where?

(long pause while Jim gets on the Bay Bridge headed back to
San Francisco.)

Don: I don't know.

Jim: Me either.  That machine really helped me understand
the information technology decision-making process, though.

Don: If the store had chosen to invest in ways that take
advantage of employee skill, they would be more able to take
advantage of unpredictable situations.  As it was, the fact
that the plastic block for the Honda key was on top of the
rack stopped them from making a sale.

Jim: It was on top of the rack?  And you didn't say anything?

Don: Don't you think that the understanding you gained
is worth the chance of getting locked out of your car?

Jim: (silence)

       . /._ o /     --personal="caine@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx" 
      /|//- / /     --business="caine@xxxxxxxxxxx"
     / ''- / /__   --homepage="http://antediluvian.org/";
~~ http://angryflower.com/bobsqu.gif ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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