The Goldilocks Phenomenon

The advent of the personal computer in the 1980s did not, contrary to common belief, personalize the user experience.  Most software tools, in keeping with the data processing mindset of the time, were relatively inflexible.

Knowledge workers found some tools to be so unbending that they either ignored them entirely or had to create parallel systems (usually not computer-based) to overcome obstacles and solve problems.

According to research recently completed by Basex, it appears that such rigidity is no longer the rule: software tools are now flexible enough to allow knowledge workers to mold them in order to meet their needs and knowledge workers possess enough technical skill to make such changes.  In a recent Basex survey, 90% of respondents reported that they have downloaded enhancements, plug-ins, and add-ons, and 80% have written macros and other code, in order to automate and speed up their own work processes.

In fact, the latest generation of knowledge workers has grown up, so to speak, in the workforce with tools that allow the knowledge worker to apply the same cleverness and ingenuity he applies to his job to his use of software.

We call this the Goldilocks Phenomenon, since it makes the software “just right.”  The term derives from the story of Goldilocks, who preferred her porridge not too hot and not too cold.  Also worth noting, the bears didn’t like that she ate all the porridge to figure out which one she liked best; this is true of IT departments and management as well, they much prefer knowledge workers to not go around sampling tools and modifying software when they are “out of the house.”  Unfortunately for bears and managers, one size does not fit all.

Next week, we will examine what the Goldilocks Phenomenon means for the enterprise, and why it is of paramount importance for IT departments, management, and knowledge workers to develop policies to harness the innovation and creativity being shown by those on the front lines of the enterprise.  We’ll also be releasing our new report Co-Creating the Workspace: The Myth of Standard Desktops and One Size Fits All Work Environments, an in-depth look at what the end user knowledge workers, are up to, early next week.

Jonathan B. Spira is CEO and Chief Analyst at Basex.

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