Cutting to the Chase

I began my career not long before the use of technology in the workplace became common. I was issued my first portable computer five years out of college. This was no laptop, but a Compaq computer bigger than the suitcase I usually travel with today, and a screen not much bigger than my cell phone’s. I cut my teeth on VisiCalc, Symphony, WordPerfect, Quattro Pro, Paint Shop, FrontPage, and heaven knows how many other casualties of software progress on the way to the state of the art products we use today.

So I’m no Luddite confused by all this new-fangled technology. But when our server crashed during a particularly bad time earlier this year I only wanted to know three things: Did we lose any data, how quick will we be back up, and what will it cost.

I got all that from our tech people, who did yeomen’s work getting us through a tough situation. I also got a lot of words I can’t repeat here. Not because they were bad, but because I didn’t understand any of them.

My familiarity with today’s technology is not unlike my familiarity with my car: I can drive it just fine but I haven’t been able to fix it since engine compartments got too tight to squeeze in a wrench and everything went electronic. As much as I appreciated the effort to explain what happened to our server, it sounded like “Blah, blah, blah, hard drive, blah, blah, toast, blah, $$$.”

I admit to a little frustration until I started to wonder how often I sound like that to our clients. I try not to and I like to think I speak in plain English, but the fact is I’ve seen the occasional blank look on a client’s face or had them ask me to explain a term or acronym.

It’s a tough balance, but part of service is being understood. Our tech folks did fine work and I’m sure they could explain in detail what they did. I’d explain it like this: “They fixed it.” That’s all I cared about.

Some situations certainly call for greater detail but people often just want the bottom line. We make it our goal here at Morrison to provide both the service and the information people need with as little blah-blah as possible. If you ever catch me forgetting that, just threaten to explain how SCSI has superior capacity to compartmentalize diverse operations, making it more suitable for multitasking operating environments. And no, I don’t know what SCSI is.

About the Author

+Brent Morrison is managing principal at Morrison, providing business valuations, business planning (including budgeting, cash flow forecasting, strategic planning), feasibility studies, interim executive CFO services, competitive grant writing and special projects that don't fit into any conventional category. You can contact Brent directly at bmorrison@morrisonco.net or via telephone at 530-893-4764 ext. 202.

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