Magic Goggles

"Simply don this unobtrusive eye-wear and...behold! The fearsome power of IT is revealed! Cower mortals!"

“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”. You’ve probably come across this quote, not thinking it applied to you and people like you.

When you think of it you probably nod indulgently, imagining some kind of tribesmen cowering beneath the awesome power of a battery operated torch, seemingly harnessing the power of the sun in your hand. In quieter moments you might have imagined yourself as a Marty McFly time-traveller going back to the 50’s with an Ipod, stunning the rubes and becoming a millionaire.

No need to travel to some distant lost valley in Papua New Guinea to impress the natives! Simply take advantage of the magic goggle effect!

People put on a special pair of magic goggles whenever IT enters the room. These magic goggles make people see the features as benefits, whether they work or not. This means that what the product is supposed to do, what it actually does and what it is supposed to achieve are conflated into a whirl of possibilities, and you are left like a child the night before Christmas too excited by it all to think straight.

An astute manager coolly appraising an IVR phone system

Look at what happens….

CRM: “It’s a customer relationship management system! In a box! Imagine!”

Take off the magic goggles, it’s nothing but the latest attempt at making technology do what people do best and computers do worst, relate to other human beings.

Choice Based Lettings: “It’s a clever database and webpage that will allow potential tenants to bid for the available properties they are interested in! Online! Imagine!”

Take off the magic goggles, you’ve just bought yourself another database to administer, and created a cottage industry around keeping people waiting whilst playing a version of eBay with houses.

Here are some actual magic goggles in action, Googles latest imaganeerings.

But it doesn’t take long for someone to spot the flaws….

The systems thinking lesson: For every non-IT problem there is seemingly an IT-Solution, which inevitably turns into an IT-problem. Great! Now you’ve got two problems, the one you started with and a newer shinier more expensive one that you’re locked into harder than your original simpler problem.
Gee-whizz new technology takes advantage of the Magic Goggles effect and encourages people to spend money to buy their way out of their situation, which won’t work.

Look at this here for example, but don’t go! Not yet anyway, not until you have:

  • gone to where your work is
  • found out the problem your customer is trying to solve with your help
  • understood how your system responds
  • understood why it responds that way
  • understood the thinking that caused this

Still wearing your magic goggles? Or have you learnt that the problem you thought you had, you don’t, and the problem you never knew you had, you now do?

It’s a cheaper problem than the one you were about to buy, and luckily it’s located in a handy place to access, right between your ears.

This entry was posted in plausible but untrue, systems thinking and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Magic Goggles

  1. Pingback: Is Big Data a pile of cack? | thinkpurpose

  2. Pingback: The Law Of The Instrument | thinkpurpose

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