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Monday, April 2, 2012

A Two Sided Coin

I have wonder often what people see that is different from what I see.   Clearly, we are looking at exactly the same thing and the language as written could not be any plainer.  Yet, for some reason people react differently or interpret what they see differently.

Over the last few weeks, I was traveling through an airport going through security.  The signs at the start of the line cannot be any clearer.  They even have pictures of what you can and cannot take through security.  If that is not enough, the TSA agent is shouting out instructions that spell out the info.  Even if you missed all of that, between the check in process providing information and the regular discussion on the news, you would think even the most unsophisticated traveler knows the info. Wrong!

Buying great wines is costly and getting it home safely is important.  However, I fail to see where the instructions at the security line allow a traveler the right to take 5 bottles of wine in the carry-on luggage.  They apparently read some of the instructions since the cosmetics and other items are neatly displayed in bags ready to go through the x-ray scanner.  What did they see that told them they could take 5 bottles of wine through in a suitcase?  Why did they seem surprised when the TSA agent took them to the ticket counter to check the bag and tell them to go back through security again?  Oddly enough, the same line with the wine travelers had a younger adult that pulled a completely filled 2 liter water bottle out of a bag.  The person took the bottle out and asked if it could go through the security screen.  At least the person asked, but I thought the instructions were clearer than that.

Simple day-to-day activities and written statements often mean different things to different people.  They may be wrong in an interpretation, but they have a different one.  How does this relate to your startup?  Even simple agreements that are short and apparently clear can have different interpretations to different people.  It always seems strange but a person seeing a glass half-empty or half-full but not both.  It is always important to keep these differences in mind because working through the differences can lead to success or failure.  There are always two sides to every story even in business! This can occur in written documents, people’s personalities, and approaches to problems.

Taffy Williams is the author of:  Think Agile:  How Smart Entrepreneurs Adapt in Order to Succeed to via Amazon