Ingenuity: striving to stay ahead of the curve

As we've been struggling a bit in the past several weeks, dealing with the slight inadequacies of some of the less user-friendly third-party SDKs that we've had to work with, I'm reminded of the tale that might help boost some creative mojo's for us all. It's a tale about how we created one of our very first plugins for AppConnector four, five years ago, an exercise that attested to the ingenuity of our research team, of which yours truly had the great honour of being an insignificant contributing member.

We needed to build a plugin to integrate with this other application, but it had no documented API into its user interface (AppConnector is all about integration at the UI level), and the vendor had neither the interest nor the intention of helping us find out. Hmm...Sounds familiar? Anyway, our research team had to study it the hard way, devising various experiments to feed it various inputs and observed its responses to come up with some consistent patterns, and let me tell you, ladies and gentlemen, for a bunch of lowly developers and business analysts, our process was so scientific that we could have claimed a SRED grant for it if we wanted to. It was. ;-)

We did run into some snags, through no faults of our own, however, but rather it was a limitation in their product. I'll never forget the conversation with their support guys when we called. On the phone, we told them that we were trying to do this and this, driving the user interface using that and that, and we expected it to behave this way but it behaved that way, blah, blah, blah, and yadiyadiyada, is this a bug, and can you help? At the end, they said they would talk to their developers and get back to us. What happened right after that was totally hilarious, my product manager and I couldn't stop snickering as we listened. They started talking to each other as if we we had already gotten off the line. (sneaky us!). I'm paraphrasing from this point on as it is quite a few years back, but the jist of volleys were like this:

Guy A: Did you get all that? Did you understand what they're trying to do?
Guy B: Yeah, man, it's totally crazy s**t. Did you know that? What they're doing. Did you know that that can be done?
Guy A: No, man, that's pretty wild.
Guy B: ....
(dialogue continues for at least another minute...eventually)
Guy A: Anyway, let me talk to X and see if we can fix this for them. I'll let you know.

So...We figured out how to use the software in a way that the original creator hadn't conceived. We took it to a new level they didn't think possible. If that's not ingenuity, then I don't know what is.

The moral of the story here is this: we need to remind ourselves, from time to time, that we ARE the experts! People look to us for solutions to the problems, not the other way around--because we do things that they think impossible to achieve, and not because we're a small bunch of super geniuses, but because we invest, painstakingly, our blood and sweat, not to mention countless hours, in figuring out things that are too time consuming for them to do had they attempted to do it themselves. And although it is sometimes unavoidable to need some guidance from our customers/partners, most of the time we are the ones to show them how it's done. As little karoras in our own rights, we all have the creative spirits within us to do that, to make a difference, and to be a part of something of revolutionary potentials.

Recent breakthroughs made by one of the team members this week further convinced me that the feeling is mutual throughout our closed knit group. Kudos, MDM! Go get 'em, maestro!