Over lunch today, I recounted a story about a project I had completed at a prior job.
We had spent many months designing a teleconferencing student recreation and learning suite, complete with state-of-the-art teleconferencing codecs, microphones, cameras, and control interfaces.
We spent months meeting over the logistics of working with A/V vendors, electricians, and building contractors, getting people working on their part of the project, on time and at the right time.
We met regularly with our finance people, to make sure we were on track and on budget.
We met throughout the project with the people who would be using the space, to make sure all of the elements were going to meet their need, and that all of the elements going into the space met the stated intention of the room.
Finally, we outfitted the room with a wonking huge flat-panel display, to finish the room setup (I know. You’re already way ahead of me).
The day came to turn up the equipment, check out the networking, and test everything in the setup.
The codec worked beautifully. The sound was phenomenal. The microphones picked up every nuance in the room. The control interfaces were intuitive, and precisely what we described to our A/V vendor. Check. Check. Check.
Finally, this: “Where is the control for Basic Cable TV?”
Dozens of people involved in the process. Months of planning. Detailed oversight throughout.
No one had thought to ask to install cable TV. In a student recreation lounge. With a TV that covered the side of a barn.
No one – including myself – thought to ask the most elemental of questions, concerning function over form.
Fortunately, we were able to easily correct the issue, and had cable installed in short order, before students arrived on campus.
The only real casualty was our embarrassment. And, a little “stupid tax” we paid.
Even if the question seems obvious, Ask. Always.