Thursday, March 06, 2008


We have concluded two days of interviewing with a client and have more interviews to go by phone. My note-taking hand is protesting by cramping and sending pains all along my arm. I suppose I could take fewer notes or use a tape recorder but neither way has proven satisfactory. When I take fewer notes, I miss details that usually prove to be important. When I record sessions, there are so many umms and ahhs to get through and garbled words that it takes twice as long to transcribe. I converted decades ago to a form of fast note-taking called "Notehand" that helps me stay up with speakers, but after a fourth or fifth interview, fingers give out. There is a penalty for using Notehand as well, which is deciphering cryptic symbols later in the office. However, I've never had as much trouble doing that as listening to tapes.

The function of interviews is to get a sense of a company from those who run it. What interviews lack is detail one needs to write authoritatively. This one gets through documents and other sources. It is interesting, however, how diverse views are about what a company does and differences people have about what is important to communicate. Some project a bias based on what they do. Others try to project an overall understanding of a firm. None quite grasp the dynamics of a large business because they can't. There is too much going on in too many places. Making sense of it all is a labored affair. Knowing what to emphasize is confusing, but eventually facts sort themselves into topics and topics into a theme. We're still a long way from that.


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