Tooling Around

I’ve been doing a lot of trainings lately, and as usual, I’ve seen a pretty wide variety of uses of the Engage platform.


I’m just saying. It’s amazing what you can do with the right tool.


Those in training created customer feedback surveys, employee satisfaction surveys, and market research surveys – no surprises there. Things got a little more interesting with surveys about personal hobbies, favorite products, social clubs, food, and even Game of Thrones fandom. What else? Assessments, of course, ranging from aptitude tests to brand identity evaluations, and from performance evaluations to tests of programming skills and social studies knowledge (Yes, those last two were separate tests!). Plus polls, seeking feedback on favorite foods, athletes, colors, Windows operating systems, and more. A few polls took on bigger topics, like the H1B visa, treatment of women, and voting age. One favorite I can’t leave out: Which of the following foods would you take with you on your trip to Mars? (No, Mars bar was not an option!)


And this is just the content. The customization, the distribution, and the reports were all across the map, too. Simple, modern style or intricately woven images and styles? Fancy fonts or high-contrast to improve visibility? HTML-rich email invitations or website links? Customized password-protected login pages or SMS invites? So many options.


I’ll say it again. This isn’t a sales pitch. Really, it just surprises me what people create when they’re given a good tool.


Unfortunately, we sometimes get stuck with bad tools. If you want to go totally concrete, think of cutting firewood with a dull ax or a rusty saw. Try to paint your house with watery paint. Trim your hair with safety scissors. I could go on.


When you’ve got the right tools in front of you, progress is suddenly – literally – at hand. Got a fancy KitchenAid mixer for your birthday? Your cooking’s headed to a whole new level. The right snow shovel can make a huge difference, too – especially following the winter when I scooped my car out from a snow bank… The jumps from handwriting to typewriters to computers cannot be overstated, and what about phones? It’s probably fair to say that Alexander Graham Bell et al. knew they were making a big leap, but the rapid evolution of the smartphone suggests that we will soon be hardpressed to come up with a problem our phones can’t solve.


Is newer always better? Of course not. I still mix cookie dough with a wooden spoon. Walking offers plenty of pleasures flying can’t match. A heartfelt, handwritten note is hundreds of times more valuable than an email.


But still. Better is better. There’s no need to hang on to a pen that doesn’t write anymore. No reason to keep sitting in a car that won’t run, just hoping it might start up. No point in wearing shoes that don’t fit just because they’re especially cheap – what a deal! – or especially expensive – but look fancy!


When you’ve got what you need, you can do what you want to do. The better the tool, the more options open up. You don’t need a big brand name or a lot of ads to tell you that. You can figure it out for yourself just by taking a test drive. Check out the tool, kick the tires, and see where you end up.


Just one more thing to figure out – what are you taking with you to Mars?