A Framework for Explaining Why Things Suck

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What did I mean when I made this comment to Thiggy?

No Trust in Useless

I made this comment after someone I work with (not Thiggy) said:

“Those reports are useless.”

Now, that might be true…the reports could be useless.  It’s possible that there is nobody on Earth who finds the reports valuable or useful.  Truthfully, I don’t know.

But, if you’re the type of person who goes around saying things in extremes—totally useless, completely sucks, the worst, and so on—then it becomes a syndrome of The Little Boy Who Cried Wolf.  That is, there is no trust in those statements, even if they are true.

This is because statement doesn’t explain why it’s useless; it doesn’t convey any information about what’s wrong and how it could be better.  Here’s a way of phrasing that statement that would engender more trust:

“These reports are useless to me because they show X, Y and Z, but what I need is P, D and Q.”

“These reports are useless to our customers because they don’t sort by date.”

So, what we have here is a basic little framework for explaining why things are useless/sucky/awful/etc…and doing it with trust:

  • What it is (“These reports”)
  • How it’s the opposite of awesome (“useless”)
  • To whom it is not great (“to me”, “to our customers”)
  • And why—what it does (“show X, Y and Z” and what the person who doesn’t like it wants it to do (“P, D and Q”).

Ultimately, it’s the “to whom” and the “why” that make the world of difference.

Written by scottporad

September 14th, 2011 at 10:17 am

Posted in Miscellaneous

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