From the Training Desk: TAP and the Pfiesteria piscicida Metaphor
By Emily Bogin
We train people from all backgrounds – from different industries, departments, and positions. Our software is intuitive and user friendly, and you don’t need to know how to code to build a workflow. Some of our clients take to software like fish to water, and others require imagery and metaphor to understand how they can leverage TAP to automate their business processes. I hope to start a series of blog posts where I bring together odd facts and stories to create metaphors about TAP and TAP’s functionality. Maybe these metaphors will help you better understand our product, or maybe you’ll just learn a fun fact for your next cocktail party. Either way, please enjoy!
When I first joined ThinkSmart and began training to become a Training Specialist, I was reading an article by Karen Barad about the Pfiesteria piscicida. It’s an organism that throws a wrench in the way we typically taxonomize species. The Pfiesteria piscicida isn’t just a plant or an animal; depending on the context, it can be either. Under certain circumstances, the Pfiesteria photosynthesizes like a plant, but under other circumstances it eats fish. Just like our workflows, the organism does not require a certain environment to thrive; rather, the organism changes depending upon the context in which it finds itself.
When scientists brought Pfiesteria organisms into a lab to isolate the organism and discover its “true” identity, they realized that the Pfiesteria could not be reduced to one identity. When the Pfiesteria was cultured on algae it would never kill fish, but when raised in contact with fish it would. Schrader writes, “Ironically, they need the fish around in order to become their killers… If you want to know who the Pfiesteria are by themselves – if that were possible at all – you will inevitably produce nontoxic Pfiesteria, but not Pfiesteria piscicida, the fish killer.”
And here we get the metaphor. When we talk to our clients and about all the ways they can leverage TAP, we are often asked for use cases. We can give a litany of use cases –Self-Service NDAs, HR Onboarding, and Procurement requests, to name a few. We can apply our software to any business process in any industry, and so naturally, use cases abound. But we never end with a generic use case. A generic use case template won’t capture the nuance that distinguishes one clients’ Self Service NDA from another’s. We always learn the ins and outs of the processes clients are working with, and we help them automate those processes. We build context-dependent solutions that will work for them.
We have the tools to approach every situation with customization. Just like the Pfiesteria piscicida changes depending on the context, our product also changes and adapts to each of our clients. We have plenty of use cases, but our use cases morph and shift into particular solutions depending on the client we serve.