[If dealing with absurd situations like those outlined in this hysterical sketch is part of your work life – learn about how to deal with them better following Goldratt’s Major Concepts or by reading this Chapter by Chapter summary of The Goal.]
- C1 (“Customer 1st speaker”) – The customer lead, Justine’s boss
- Justine – Design specialist at the customer
- V1 (“Vendor 1st speaker”) – The vendor lead, Walter and Anderson the Expert’s boss.
- Walter – Reports to V1, serves as Project Manager
- Anderson the Expert (“AE”)
Our company has a new strategic initiative to increase market penetration, maximize brand loyalty and enhance intangible assets In pursuit of these objectives, we’ve started a new project which will require:
Seven Red Lines
I understand your company can help us in this matter?
Of course, Walter here will be the project manager, Walter, we can do this, can’t we?
Yes, of course. Anderson here is our expert in all matters related to drawing red lines. We brought him along today to share his professional opinion.
Nice to meet you! Well, you know me. This is Justine, our company’s design specialist.
We need you to draw seven red lines. [Pause.]
All of them strictly perpendicular; some with green ink and some with transparent. Can you do that?
Expert / Anderson (“EA”) –
No. I’m afraid we –
Let’s not rush into any hasty answers, Anderson! The task and needs to be carried out.
At the end of the day, you are an expert.
The term “red line” implies the color of the line to be red. To draw a red line with green ink is –
well if it is not exactly impossible, then it is pretty close to being impossible.
Walter – 1:02 What does it even mean: “impossible”?
I mean, it is quite possible that there are some people, say suffering from colour blindness,
for whom the colour of the lines doesn’t really make a difference. But I am quite sure that the target audience of your project does not consists solely of such people.
C1 – 1:15
So in principle this is possible.
EA – 1:19
I’ll simplify – A line as such can be drawn with absolutely any ink. But if you want to get a red line, you need to use red ink.
V1 – 1:28
What if we draw them with blue ink?
EA – 1:30
It still won’t work. If you use blue ink, you will get blue lines. And what exactly did you mean, when you talked about the transparent ink?
C1 – 1:40
How to better explain? I’m sure you know what “transparent” means?
EA – 1:44
Yes, I do.
C1 – 1:45
And what a “red line” means, I hope I don’t need to explain to you?
EA – 1:49
Of course not.
C1 – 1:50
Well… You need to draw red lines with transparent ink.
EA – 1:55
Could you describe what you imagine the end result would look like?
Walter – 1:58
C’mon, Anderson! What do we have here, kindergarten?
V1 – 2:01
Let’s not waste our time with these unproductive quarrels. The task has been set; the task is plain and clear. Now, if you have any specific questions, go ahead!
Walter – 2:11
You’re the expert here!
EA – 2:13
Alright, let’s leave aside the colour for the moment. You had something there also relating to perpendicularity?..
V1 – 2:20
Seven lines, all strictly perpendicular.
EA – 2:23
V1 – 2:26
Erm, to everything. Among themselves. I assumed you know what perpendicular lines are like!
Walter – 2:32
Of course he does. He’s an expert!
EA – 2:35
Two lines can be perpendicular. All seven can’t be simultaneously perpendicular to each other. I’ll show you.
[Steps to drawing board.]
This is a line, right?
EA – 2:49
And another one. Is it perpendicular to the first line?
V1 – 2:55
Well… [With hesitation.]
EA – 2:57
Yes, it is perpendicular.
V1 – 2:59
EA – 3:00
Wait, wait, I’m not done. And a third one: is it perpendicular to the first line? Yes, it is! But it doesn’t cross the second line. They’re both parallel. Not perpendicular!
V1 – 3:16
I suppose so.
EA – 3:17
There it is. Two lines can be perpendicular —
V1 – 3:21
Can I have the pen? How about this?
EA – 3:48
This is a triangle. It’s definitely not perpendicular lines. And there are three, not seven.
V1 – 3:57
Why are they blue?
Walter – 3:58
Indeed. Wanted to ask that myself.
EA – 4:01
I have a blue pen with me. This was just a demonstration —
V1 – 4:04
That’s the problem, your lines are blue. Draw them with red ink!
EA – 4:07
It won’t solve the problem.
Walter – 4:09
How do you know before you’ve tried? Lets draw them with red ink and then let’s see.
EA – 4:12
I don’t have a red pen with me, — but I am completely certain that with red ink the result will still be the same.
Walter – 4:19
Didn’t you tell us earlier that you can only draw red lines with red ink? In fact, yes, I’ve written it down here! And now you want to draw them with a blue ink. Do you want to call these red lines?
[Chuckles to room.]
Justine – 4:29
I think I understand. You’re not talking about the colour now, right? You’re talking about that, what do you call it: per-per, dick-dick —
EA – 4:37
V1 – 4:38
That’s it, now you’ve confused everyone. So what exactly is stopping us from doing this?
EA – 4:44
C1 – 4:46
Just ignore it!
V1 – 4:47
We have a task. Seven red lines. It’s not twenty; it’s just seven.
Anderson, I understand; you’re a specialist of a narrow field, you don’t see the overall picture.
But surely it’s not a difficult task to draw some seven lines!
Walter – 5:01
Exactly. Suggest a solution! Any fool can criticize, no offence, but you’re an expert, you should know better!
EA – 5:10
OK. Let me draw you two perfectly perpendicular red lines, — and I will draw the rest with transparent ink. They’ll be invisible, but I’ll draw them.
V1 – 5:21
Would this suit us? Yes, this will suit us.
Justine – 5:26
Yes, but at least a couple with green ink. Oh, and I have another question, if I may. Can you draw one of the lines in the form of a kitten?
EA – 5:34
Justine – 5:35
In the form of a kitten. Market research tells our users like cute animals. It’d be really great if —
EA – 5:40
Justine – 5:42
EA – 5:42
Look, I can of course draw you a cat. I’m no artist, but I can give it a try. But it won’t be a line any more. It will be a cat. A line and a cat: those are two different things.
V1 – 5:51
A kitten. Not a cat, but a kitten. It’s little, cute, cuddly. Cats, on the other hand —
EA – 5:58
It doesn’t make a difference.
Walter – 5:59
Anderson, at least hear her out! She hasn’t even finished speaking, and you’re already saying “No!”
EA – 6:04
I got the idea, but it is impossible to draw a line in the form of a cat…ten.
Justine – 6:10
What about a bird?
V1 – 6:15
So, where did we stop? What are we doing?
Walter – 6:17
Seven red lines, two with red ink, two with green ink and the rest – with transparent.
Did I understand correctly? — — Yes.
V1 – 6:23
Excellent! In which case that’s everything, right?
Justine – 6:26
Oh, oh, I almost forgot, we also have a red balloon.
Do you know if you could inflate it?
EA – 6:34
What do I have to do with balloons?
Justine – 6:37
V1 – 6:38
Anderson, can you or can you not do this? A simple question.
EA – 6:42
As such, I can of course, but —
V1 – 6:43
Excellent. Organise a business trip, we’ll cover the expenses, — go over to their location, inflate the balloon. Well this was very productive, thank you all!
Justine – 7:08
Can I ask one more question, please? When you inflate the balloon, could you do it in the form of a kitten?
EA – 7:16
Of course I can! I can do anything, I can do absolutely anything. I’m an “expert”!