The Toaster Parable

We give a number of workshops around the world which have fancy titles but in the end they are all about “How not to screw up an ELN project”. In this we use the example of the humble toaster to bring home the fact that an ELN project team are specifying something for the people who didn’t volunteer to be members of the ELN project team! If you want your project to be a success you need to remember that your target audience don’t really care as much as you do which means you need to adjust your expectations about how much brainspace they’re prepared to give any “ELN”-like tool you provide.

So many teams have over-specified what they want (because they are ELN geeks!), spent ages deciding to buy expensive software, and rushed out to their userbase with the result of years of effort – to be greeted with total apathy. Everyone loses in this case.

This is what I call the Toaster Problem – I just want toast. My wife on the other hand wants a work of art – which can produce anything you want as long as you have a degree in cooking. My wife is on the Toaster Buying Committee, and I am a humble Dad trying to get to work on time – huge difference in outlook, and sadly it’s the ones who aren’t on the committee who matter most for the ultimate business success of the project.

Anyway, I stumbled on the Parable of the Toaster which is tangentially related but will be amusing for those of us who have experienced the different mindsets which can populate our profession. Those lovely consultants…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *