Cinderella is a timeless story. So most people should be aware of the Glass Slipper, the shoe that fell off Cinderella as she ran away from the ball. It became the symbol of the perfect woman to Prince Charming (did he have an actual name?). Fairy tales and fables are supposed to teach us and illustrate the world and our problems in a way that we can comprehend. They can help us to see the other side of the argument and offer clear insight into how we as humans operate.
When we get to the Prince Charming part of the story we start to see that it is teaching us about how to solve a great problem. The great challenge we face is that people often confuse the problem with the solution and the solution with the tool. In this story the solution is Cinderella, not the Glass Slipper – because the problem he is actually trying to solve is his quest to find a queen. Cinderella is the perfect solution and the Glass Slipper represents a tool to solve that problem. The Glass Slipper is a red herring to most people and they tend to confuse it as actual solution. Clarity and vision are required to see past it to what the real problem is and not caught up hype and circus of the Glass Slipper.
OK, it’s time to decipher what the hell I’m talking about.
Well my experience is that often we loose sight of the actual underlying problem trying to be solved. We lack the insight to dig deep enough to find out what is the beating heart of the matter. We seem so often to view digital technology as the glass slipper. We confuse it with the problem or we see it as the solution.
The other problem with the Glass Slipper is that it gives us the illusion that all problems have a discreet and simple solution. The Glass Slipper for some reason gives us hope for a one-size-fits-all solution – but that is hardly the reality. We seem capable of glossing over the bit of the story where all the women in the land tried their best to squeeze their pudgy feet in. With girt and determination they thought they could shoehorn themselves into the shoe and become the queen. The reality is that it was a highly customised and crafted solution and one that was created by magic! Hey, this is a fairy tale – you can pull that sort of trick and you don’t need to get into the nitty gritty – and because it was magic and not the work of a team of artisans it lacks the temporal context the Glass Slipper needs to be truly appreciated. This isn’t a simple tool, and the only reason it seems so is because it was created using magic! The reality is that if we want our own Glass Slipper we need to craft it. It takes time and patience, resources, creativity, trial and error, research, testing, piloting, risk, failure, tears, sweat, blood, ideas, lightbulb moments and a steady hand.
The moral of my story is don’t be fooled by the Glass Slipper. It’s not the solution you’re looking for, it a tool to solve a problem. And unless you have a Fairy Godmother or access to other magical beings – pixies, elves, wizards or witches – don’t think that it will ever be simple and easy to craft.