I was recently described by a client as being “some kind of Excel wizard.” After putting down my wand to high-five myself, the fact that something so simple could create such an effect reminded me of a quote from the Science Fiction author, Arthur C. Clarke:
“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”
While Clarke’s quote has (slightly) broader implications than Excel, the sentiment remains the same.
To someone not familiar with what is possible, even the simplest of tricks can seem magical. What amounted to a few key strokes and 5 minutes for me saved the client days of effort.
Revealing my secrets
Unfortunately for me, I’m not actually a wizard. I’m not even a magician and in this case, as if often true of “real” magic tricks, the actual method used was disappointingly mundane.
Magicians carefully guard their secrets for this very reason, as not to spoil the effect. In magic shows people accept this deception as the entertainment payoff is worth it.
In business, people accept it simply because they don’t understand it – what is being done is beyond them – or its more trouble than it’s worth. If I were a nefarious consultant I could take advantage of this fact, and ‘blind them with science’. Or more to the point, blind them with technical jargon and my own sense of self-importance.
Dispelling the mystery
As much as wearing a top hat and cape appeals to me, I actually enjoy dispelling the mystery and explaining what I do – and how I’m doing it. I don’t want to hold on to knowledge; I want to share it.
If more people asked, or (more realistically) accepted my offer to explain what I’m doing, they may be surprised to learn that they too can perform magic and save themselves significant effort in the process.