Barcode Testing Service: Making Promises
When I met Jeff several years ago, he was a work in progress—and so was Barcode Test. His very life was an expression of his non-conformity. On the other hand, I had about 35 years of barcode experience at the time and really did not know how to offer it to those who might need it. Jeff needed us and I was looking for people like Jeff. Neither of us knew how to make the connection.
Over the years, I have learned about Jeff from watching him learn. Ambiguity makes Jeff very uncomfortable. Ambiguity erodes his sense of being in control. As a press operator, barcodes added an element of uncertainty to what had been a simple job. Jeff learned printing from an “old master” who taught him to see color and halftone patterns. When it looked good, it was good. That is what defined quality and Jeff took pride in learning and knowing that. Then came barcodes. What looked good was not always good enough. Jeff felt like the bottom had dropped out.
Talking to Jeff, hearing him struggle, I realized that what I was offering was a promise. Sure it was all about barcodes and barcode quality but that was the wrapping. The package was a promise about learning. His learning as well as mine. Joseph Joubert*, said, “to teach, is to learn twice.”
One of Jeff’s early “eureka” moments was his realization that he did not need to know everything about barcodes. What he was looking for was a solution to a current dilemma. Jeff said, “If I can just solve this current problem, I can re-start the press, finish this job, get the monkey off my back and move on to the next job.”
That sparked a “eureka” moment for me too. Up until that moment, Barcode Test seemed destined to become just another purveyor of quick answers followed by quick invoices.
That was the strategy of our companions in the vertical. What if I promised to teach anyone willing to learn?
Years in barcoding had taught me a lot, including that I did not know it all. I could share my knowledge. One of those things was how to learn, how to understand a problem well enough to reduce it into a procedure for finding the right solution. That resonated with Jeff. During one conversation, he said, “I’d rather know how to fish than have you give me one.” He went on to explain what a stress reducer it has been for him. I asked him to elaborate, and his answer surprised me. He said it was a de-stresser to know what to do in most situations, and to have someone to call that he felt he could trust.
That was good to hear. A quick answer is not always possible. It can take some time to understand a problem. I promise to bring my full attention, years of experience and full solution disclosure. Nothing withheld.
That is the promise.
*Joseph Joubert (1754-1824) French moralist and essayist