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The virtue of patience

2 min read

Written by: Luc Brandts

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Over the weekend, I managed to get my father on Netflix. We both thought it would be a good idea, since he’s in self-isolation as we all are, and this could be a good way for him to pass the time. As small of a task as this may sound, it was all done remotely via a Whatsapp video call. It was quite the challenge and included connecting his TV to wifi, removing the Netflix app (as it didn’t work initially) and re-installing it, getting a subscription, etc. The fact that he’s an octogenarian has nothing to do with it; he’s a man of the words, not technology. He’s been a journalist most of his career and is still the editor of a local professional football club’s magazine. But technology? No!

There’s a running joke in my family that when somebody is looking for a pair of gloves, digging through the basket where they’re all stocked, and they find two left-handed ones, we tend to say, “They’re granddad’s, leave them!” Not sure how well this translates into English, but in Dutch we think it’s rather funny (and accurate!).

When Herakles (or Hercules, for those of you with a Roman preference) had to perform his tasks for King Eurystheus, he was given 12 great challenges and managed them so well, he became the stuff of legend. Had my father been around then, and had King Eurystheus known him, he may have become known as the legendary slayer of Hercules. As said, patience is a virtue and not sure if Hercules had a lot of that in stock.

How is all of this relevant to the technology world? The issue is that 80-90% of people are like my father, if not more. They love the function of technology, what it produces for them, but couldn’t care less about how it works. Most people see technology as a lovely black box, which shouldn’t be opened. Not even Pandora’s box, because there was still hope left in that one; most non-technologists have no hope whatsoever when staring into the average technology box. Firstly, we need to do a better job at creating better boxes. But perhaps more importantly, we need to explain the black boxes better –  not in terms of technology, but in the language of the rest of the world.

At SIG, we’ve got a 100%-remote way of working, and it was great to put those principles into practice with my father this past weekend. But it also showed the relevance of using understandable (i.e. normal) words and plain language. A task not to be underestimated at any time, but certainly now of utmost importance.

And my father? When I contacted him Sunday evening to ask how Netflix was going for him, he responded that he had been in the garden a lot, talking to passers-by (at a safe distance) and on the phone with friends and family. So, he hadn’t gotten around to using it yet. Even better!


Luc Brandts

Group CEO

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