Avoid Garbage In, Garbage Out

By Stan Leong, President and CEO

I recently read a book called 12 Rules for Life by Jordan Peterson, containing some very interesting rules of how to live a good life. One that resonated with me the most was Rule 10 of Life, Be Precise in Your Speech. Not only interesting, it is particularly applicable to how we look at our Clients’ challenges which I will get to.

Before we get to Rule 10 and its application, let’s take a small step back and understand perceptions. Peterson uses a great example – a laptop computer. Our perception of it is a plastic and glass square that has circuits, transistors, resistors, CPU’s and other gizmos that allow it to work. We use it to create images, listen to music, watch videos and write blog posts. But if we look closer taking a macroscopic view, our perception doesn’t achieve reality. To watch a video or listen to music the laptop is the very last thing in a long list of things that must work precisely. Your house wifi must be working. The local internet service provider must be providing the signal to your wifi. Their servers must all be working and transmitting. The electricity in the grid must be supplying power. The coal plants /windmills /solar panels must be generating electricity to the utility company and their lines must be feeding power to the ISP’s servers. It’s a long list of things that need to be working for you to enjoy your videos and music.

What happens when your video or music player unexpectedly shuts down? You start to trouble shoot software, updates, hardware, reboot. Surf the net using your phone. What else could it be? You check your house wifi, change the power outlet or battery pack. Is someone making coffee again? Why won’t you just work? No longer just a plastic and glass square that has circuits, your laptop is the one thing you need right now to get the task at hand done and it just won’t turn on.

Now a glorified paper weight, it is time to call in reinforcements – the help desk. Imagine for a second answering the help desk line and trying to trouble shoot this: I push this button and my computer turns on. I start my player and the music plays. After a while, it stops. Where do you even start to solve the problem? You could make assumptions and wrack your brain for every possible scenario, but this takes time and the person on the other end (you) is losing patience fast. Fix the damn laptop please! Enter Rule 10: Be precise in your speech.

Shifting Gears: Rule 10 and Client Challenges

Our clients face a challenge that can’t be seen – the damaging effects on operating systems caused by microbial populations introduced through water. Wherever there is water, there is bacteria unobservable or identifiable by the naked eye. This leaves our clients reliant on testing technology, which in turn includes challenges. A lack of awareness of testing options, features and benefits, requirements, data outputs and training can leave you resorting to what has always been done – typically this equates to serial dilution in our world. These tests used to measure sulfate reducing bacteria (SRB) and acid producing bacteria (APB), utilize nutrient broths to encourage growth (bottle turns) to determine if there is a risk of a system upset such as microbiologically influenced corrosion (MIC). For example, if we see four or more SRB bottles turn, then the risk of a system upset is great and preventive action should be taken. In turn, if three or less bottles turn, the risk is determined to be low and no action is required. This is where the rubber needs to hit the road – less than 1% of microbes are currently culturable and we may be in fact growing microbial weeds. Let’s look at dandelions for a second. They suggest growth in your garden, but they are not the plants you are looking to grow! The perception is bottle turns are directly associated/correlated to your whole system analysis, but the reality is a bottle turn could be for a number of reasons.

Our client challenges with microbes needs to be addressed with precision. The information yield and precision shifts through new technology adoption, from metabolic markers, like ATP, to genome-based testing. Let’s look at ATP Testing – results are available within minutes in the field. Higher level genome-based testing takes this a step further offering detailed analysis about the microbiome present and problematic microbes of concern within your system or application. Let the data drive decisions. The right testing technology at the right time offers information that drives effective decision making.

In summary, being precise in your speech, starts with being precise about the tools you employ, the weighting behind them and the outcome you are driving towards. It’s more than just, my laptop won’t turn on. It is holistic understanding of why your laptop won’t turn on that will drive the outcome you are looking for – a functioning laptop. Or for our clients, an effectively functioning system or application.

Let’s keep the conversation going! Contact Stan Leong.