Ticking off the Right Tools for the Job

Yesterday, I had an interesting conversation with an Information 2.0 company, UmbriaListens. They specialize in figuring out what people are writing about on the internet. 

Not, individuals, but all people.

It almost sounds like something out of an Asimov book, but its not psychohistory as much as something akin to a precursor.  A means of sensing what is going on at a macro level across the internet.

How would a person employ such a Tool?

That is the question for such a technology.  Once you know what millions of people are writing about, what do you do with that information? 

Whenever, I'm confronted with tools and technologies that I lack the wisdom to employ, I revert to an analogy from an Eddie Murphy movie from the 80's that was not very popular.  It was a comedy about arms dealers (pre Iran Contra scandal).

In the movie, they talk about two rival warlords that spend millions on the latest fighter jets.  The warlords do not have any pilots or support systems capable of flying the jets, so they just roll the jets down hills at their enemies and crash them into things.

That's Not a good Utilization of Technology!

So when I run across a technology that I can't utilize (yet) I think of rolling jets down a hill.

That said, I can definitely envision a use for this technology, just like those warlords could envision their jets flying.  But thinking it so, does not make it so.

As an example, I read a watch article the other day that mentioned some watch tools.  This reminded me of my grandfather, who used to repair watches and cameras and lots of other things as well.  The point is that I could go to the local Hobby Lobby and pick up some watch hobby tools, but I could repair a watch or a clock any better than I could without those tools, regardless of the type of clock whether it was mechanical, digital or even atomic. (If it were programmed on a computer that might be a different story. . . )

Having the Right Tool for the Job is almost as important as Having the Wisdom to do the Job

Now, if you do have the right tools, odds are that you might be able to figure out the right methods, just like a non-plumber might figure out how to tighten a pipe with a pipe wrench, but probably could not tighten a pipe with a wood saw.

Having the wisdom of how to use the pipe wrench and when to stop applying pressure so that you do not strip the threads, is something slightly beyond trial and error, but at a level that is necessary to complete a job successfully.

How to Sell a Tool that You Cannot train a Customer to Use before you Sell it

So anyway, I was very interested in this tool, but I was in a Catch 22.  If I purchased the tool (informational report) I wouldn't know how to use it.  That would make the information about as useful as a pipe wrench. But my odds of success and my ability to realize a return on my investment would not be very good.

I would essentially need to pay for some training in using the tool.  Having the training would make it possible to use the tool correctly, but then I run into the final question.

Is the tool worthwhile at all?

At this point, I have the tool, I have the wisdom to use it, but its only with the combination of those two things can I realize if all of these things are really worthwhile.

I have to buy the tool and invest the time and money in the training in order to determine if I have the right tool in the first place. 

Back to my Watch Analogy. . . .

If I were repairing a cookoo clock, and I purchased a sledge hammer and bashed the cookoo into the clock and ruined the clock, I would learn that I had the wrong tool for the job.  I'd also be out a cookoo clock (in need of repair) and out the money for a sledge hammer.

If I purchase a small clock mallet, I might tap on the cookoo all day long and never get the peg into the clock just right either.  I could then keep buying mallets until I found the right one (assuming I didn't go to far and end up with a similar result to the sledge hammer.)

So in the age of the internet and Information 2.0, how can a company get the message across about how to use their tools and products, without giving the product away?  How can a buyer make a good buying decision without having the wisdom to use the information they buy effectively?

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