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Fear of the unknown


As I lead testing with the users, they are doing things for the first time. They are uncertain, nervous, and afraid. They know that what they do is important, but it doesn’t feel important to them. It feels scary. And so they complain. Not to me, of course, but to each other. That’s their culture, a culture of grousing. And it’s fueled by a fear of the unknown.

The grousing comments eventually reach me, and my superiors. They ask what they should do about the complaints. I said “nothing,” because to me, the complaining is just a stage. But a co-worker suggested writing up the “wins” and putting them on the wall. “Wins” are things that are good about the system. They may not seem good right now, because they are features that are different from the system they know. But if we tell them a few “wins,” then maybe the users can start identifying more “wins” of their own.

It’s a good idea. We’ll see if it has any effect on the grousing. And even if it doesn’t, eventually the users’ fear of the unknown will dissipate. What is unknown and feared will become known and commonplace.

And by then they’ll find something else to complain about.

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