“There is more to life than simply increasing its speed.”
In this period of Olympic games, and its hendriatis motto “Citius, Altius, Fortius”, it seems appropriate to remember there are other ways to keep score. The Olympic comity, the press, TV, analysts, businesses, we all spend a lot of time talking about bigger cars, smaller chips, faster processors, larger number of transistors, thinner phones, bigger quarterly dividends, etc. These are good operational measures. They are factual, precise for most, accurate for some. But they also often live us blind-sided.
Real breakthroughs are not measured this way. None of these measures can encapsulate their full impact. The Web, for instance, appeared in the mid-nineties, made all other internet services like email widely appealing and accessible. Since then, we are in many ways closer from people we lived away from, for instance. The real big change is not to be able to get your email in 1 second vs. 12 seconds – the kind of progress made between 1994 and 2012. The real big change is to be able to get an email at all. No email. To email. OFF vs. ON. Real change is qualitative in nature. Real change is unquantifiable. Real change is infinite. You could argue that email replaced the letters of old, just faster and cheaper. But did it? Do you still get the feeling you got when you receive a handwritten letter from someone you love? Do you still get the same anticipation that when you walked to the mailbox hoping for one? Do you feel as good with a <3 as you did with something like this:
Similarly, when dealing with friends, partners and clients alike, it is good to look at the numbers, but it is also important to look beyond the numbers. You ship faster… But what is the experience of your customers when they receive what you shipped? You deliver more features… But do they meet a real need? Or make things complicated? You have more customers… But do your customers trust you? Quantitative questions make you good in the moment. Qualitative questions make you great and sustainable. Big questions are qualitative in nature. Because there is more to life than simply increasing its speed.