Thursday, May 31, 2007

The fuzzy bit

Technologists think in black and white, zeros and ones, yes or no. But management is not all about yes or no. There is a grey area, let's call it the fuzzy bit. (For non-techs, a "bit" is the smallest unit of storage or calculation, and all other elements are comprised of bits. Each of the letters typed here are comprised of 8 or 16 bits, depending on which system you are viewing them from).

When I programmed on proprietary motherboards, we would occasionally come across a fuzzy bit, which oscillated between zero and one. As a programmer, the fuzzy bit caused all sorts of inexplicable errors in my code, but in management, it's an essential tool in the process of decision-making. Why? It promotes discussion and collaboration in reaching a final outcome, either one way or another. Technologists are not always comfortable with this, prefering a known, immediate outcome. But, an outcome squelchs discussion and exploration.

As a programmer, the fuzzy bit cost me countless lost days and all-nighters, and I dreaded encountering it. As a manager, I couldn't live without the fuzzy bit.


Carol said...

My favorite "management fuzzy bit" experience is here:


glemak said...

you speak the truth my brother from another mother - and continent ;)