I thought I should get some value from my UPA (Usability Professionals Association) membership this year so I attended a talk by Andrew Harder (no, the irony wasn’t lost on me) of Nokia. The theme of his talk was the agency / client divide and it was very interesting getting his perspective as someone who has moved from an agency to a global organisation and how he now views the work of researchers. I would have liked to ask how he views Nokia as someone from an agency but the Q and A session was rather sadly monopolised by someone with a monologue or three rather than a question.
I won’t recount the entire session, worthy though it was of being reported, but the bit I really liked was concerned with cutting out the fat and getting to the juicy morsel of key information that the client is looking for. The analogy Andrew used was from Ernest Hemmingway’s book “The old man and the sea” and it worked superbly.
The story is told of the struggle between an old and experienced fisherman and the catch of his life. The fisherman goes further than ever before to end his unproductive spell and eventually catches the largest Marlin he has ever seen. After a 3 day and night struggle he eventually kills the Marlin but cannot bring it aboard his boat so instead lashes it to the side. He heads for home, weak after the long struggle and facing a long voyage, leaving a trail of blood as he goes from the Marlin. A new battle takes place as the old man fends off the attacks of various sharks attracted by the blood but eventually tired and having lost his harpoon he is unable to fight them off and they eat the valuable meat leaving only the head and carcass still strapped to the side of his boat.
Before the sharks had eaten the Marlin the old man was questioning the worthiness of those back at shore that would eat such a magnificent fish following the enormous struggle he and the Marlin had endured. However, after returning with just a carcass to show for his efforts, the old man reflects that he should have simply filleted the Marlin and brought the best meat back to sell.
Is less more when providing research findings? This is the underlying message which I agree with. Thoughts?