Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Filling In The Blanks

You've seen these many times before, so try to fill in the blanks to guess the word (and yes, there is ONE right answer):

D _ G

Are you ready to hit me yet and say "WTF?" Good.


So, what did you guess? Dog? Dig? Dug? Drg? Well, the answer was DOG, duh. Drg isn't even a word.

How do I know? Because I made the puzzle, and I hold the answer, it's that simple. Sure DIG and DUG work but they aren't correct. Here's what I'm getting at.


Our brains fill in blanks all the time. When you see an object, a car for example, your brain doesn't instruct your eyes to scan the entire vehicle and send back each and every detail. Your eyes take a few pieces of the picture and your brain fills in the rest of the picture to construct one complete image.


You could probably fill in the blanks of this car image pretty easily:



If you've seen this car before, you would probably recognize it, as you can see most of it. Our brains are good at filling in blanks when it comes to things that we see, but what about everything else like ideas, books, movies, relationships? We need to fill in blanks whenever there is a lack of information and we need to piece smaller bits of information into one complete object, and we do it all the time. Here's an example:

Your significant other comes home from work with slouched shoulders and eyes directed towards the floor. You don't know anything about where they've been, but you immediately suspect that there is something wrong. Nothing has been said, and you have no idea what they have been doing for the past 8 or so hours, so how do you know? You think you know becayse you took some small bits of information (body posture, direction of the eyes), and filled in the information that is unknown to you (mood, emotions, feelings, etc). This example is parallel with the image of the car above, because you have enough information to fill in the blanks and you are likely correct in assuming that something is wrong.


This is a simple example, but many times it is not quite this easy, as you may not have as much information as you need. Imagine you own a company and you need to decipher the needs of your customers. Now your image looks more like this:


You are severely lacking in information here. With the car, you know the color and the approximate size, but it is much harder to fill in the blanks (although your brain might remember the image from above and fill in the blanks just fine, but pretend this didn't happen). As for your customers, you know a little about what they need, but there is really no way to gather up everything that they need. All the market research and customer feedback in the world still leaves many blanks. So, it is really up to you to fill in those blanks, but you need to fill it in with the right stuff. Fill it in with the wrong stuff and you'll be providing your customers with products/services that don't fit their needs, and you're out of business.

It is this ability to fill in blanks that makes or breaks a company, but the question remains: How do they fill in the blanks and how do they do it right? I sure don't know, so can you help me fill in the blank?

3 Comments:

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