February 6, 2008

Patterns: 14 Snow Plows and 122 Science Projects

This morning was snowy in Toronto. The radio created excitement about how bad the weather was. In truth, the weather wasn't that bad. The snow blower quickly cleared the driveway. Major streets were well-plowed. I drove downtown on bus routes.

On Dundas Street, I saw 14 snow plows in groups of 2-3 within 15 minutes. Luckily, they were going in the opposite direction. There were also five police cars on my route. Probably a coincidence.

What's Odd
Here's what's really odd. The plows weren't plowing. The snow was already removed. I'm guessing they were en route to plow side streets. The plows were were inadvertently affecting three groups
  1. folks waiting in side streets
  2. the traffic snailing behind them
  3. the inquisitive (bloggers?!?) wondering what was going on
Fortunately, I got to all my meetings on time and so did the other attendees.

The Science Projects
We visited a grade 6-8 Science Fair at my son's school in the evening. With so many projects beside one another, patterns became easy to spot:
  1. text fonts too small to read from a distance: with PowerPoint what looks big on a computer screen looks small when projected
  2. weird colour combinations: too much creativity reduced readability
  3. too much content: difficult to grasp the main message instantly
  4. sea of sameness: looking for interesting differences
  5. seeking out winners: endorsement by judges made those projects seem better than they perhaps were (placebo effect)
  6. research done online: can your clients find you online?
  7. varying attention to detail: some did/didn't put their heart into their work
  8. conclusions hard to find: the conclusions didn't stand out even though they were generally where expected --- the bottom right hand quadrant
It's unfair to judge kids by the same standards as as our clients judge us. We can still learn lessons, though. Students have an advantage: they get marks and get guidance. Clients rarely tell us how we did and how to get better.

1 comment:

  1. 2 Snow Plows and 0 Science Projects

    One day has passed. I cleared the driveway last night and there was little new snow since then. Roads were in poor condition (even bus routes) when I headed west at 6:30am on Highway 401. It was essentially closed at Mississauga Road. I travelled 15 km of my 90km route in 75 minutes before heading back.

    Let's see what tomorrow brings.