You know it when they dance

Here’s that eternal question again: how do you know when whatever you’re working on is good enough? Today, two perspectives.

The Oscar-winning sound designer Walter Murch, speaking Friday night at the Rafael Film Center in San Rafael California, told about talking shop with Michael Jackson’s engineers. They told Murch that they had no special insight, they just tried one mix after another as Jackson sat in the back, silent. They knew they had it right when he got up and danced.

The other way was the General Motors way. They took forever, and sometimes simply stopped trying when the bureaucracy’s deadline came. A recent New York Times article explains why GM cars never made anyone want to dance, or at least not me.

“We measured ourselves ten ways from Sunday … But as soon as everything is important, nothing is important.” [director of G.M.’s vehicle engineers]

Decisions were made, if at all, at a glacial pace, bogged down by endless committees, reports and reviews that astonished members of President Obama’s auto task force.

In the old G.M., any changes to a product program would be reviewed by as many as 70 executives, often taking two months for a decision to wind its way through regional forums, then to a global committee, and finally to the all-powerful automotive products board.

Nobody lives forever, but make sure you dance while you can.

Filed Under: Uncategorized

The data industry thrives on conversation. Please submit a comment.

Other recent posts

Bohemian Grove a la BI

The Bohemian Grove of the BI industry convenes for the fifteenth time in just three weeks. Naturally, you ask the obvious question: Are you serious? The Grove? A summit? The answer begins with a fond recollection of the Grove. If you’ve never attended the Bohemian Grove yourself — I haven’t, though I live in the… Continue Reading

Favorite Star Trek, a data story

This story shows how elemental data stories really are. Humans come ready to tell and hear them, requiring no plug-ins at all. This young person can do a good job of it. There was a question, followed by data, then questions and answers, and and finally a conclusion. It’s all there. It’s elementary. Sure, this… Continue Reading

Bad stories stop good data at the water cooler

We agree by now that data’s a good compass. One neglected question is tougher: Which map? Everyone’s known the kind of “grouchy guy” TDWI instructor Kellee M. Franklin, Ph.D tells about. This guy knew better than most of his co-workers about how their Washington, D.C. defense agency worked. And he was frustrated. Over the years,… Continue Reading