Charles Momsen may not be a household name. But he gained notoriety in the 1920s when he was awarded the US Navy’s Distinguished Service Medal.
It was the early days of submarine development, and Momsen was determined to find a way to prevent the death of sailors in accidents involving sunken submarines.
He had an idea for a life jacket-like device that would help sailors escape from these would-be underwater tombs.
After a long and frustrating battle with the Navy to win funding approval, seven thousand “Momsen Lungs” were ordered, and Momsen was honored for his efforts.
I find this story both interesting and amazing. As an avid scuba diver since 1968, I understand “Divers’ Rule of Physics Number One,” otherwise known as Boyle’s Law.
Boyle’s Law addresses the issue of gas compression under pressure. Simply put, a diver at one hundred feet has three times as much air in his lungs as he would at the surface.
As he surfaces, the air expands and is exhaled. If a diver were to hold his breath, he would rupture his lungs.
One of the first things a diver learns is how to make a free ascent. Starting from a depth of a hundred feet or less, you lean your head back and slowly exhale as you rise.
The challenge is to match exhalation to the ascent rate. Both you and your air bubbles should reach the surface at the same time.
Momsen spent a great deal of time and effort developing technology for which there was already a simple solution.
A sailor could surface from a downed submarine by making a free ascent. A non-technology solution had been available all along!
Is Technology Always the Answer?
Fast forward to today. We find technology wonders such as cellular telephones with cameras and wristwatches containing contact databases.
Impressive, yes. Necessary? That answer is up for debate.
While I am hardly one to stand in the way of technological advances, I do feel that we are sometimes lured by the song of the “Technology Siren.”
The explosion of web-based businesses was a good example of technology being applied to situations where simpler and cheaper solutions already existed.
Taking Time for Logic and Reason
As we move into the next generation of business that has a stronger customer service focus, I find myself questioning whether we are giving full consideration to logic, reason, and risk before we jump on the latest technology bandwagon.
It might be our natural inclination to throw technology at a problem to fix it. But there is wisdom in taking the time to consider the potential risks involved.
The old axiom of “doing it right the first time” may be more appropriate now than ever before. Certainly, the consequences associated with misguided technology decisions are more costly than in the past.
The pace of today’s business environment is such that if we make an error, the ramifications and number of entities involved are incredibly far reaching.
Use Your Common Sense
In the past, for example, it was rare for a processing error, failed policy or fraud to impact more than a limited number of customers.
Today, a simple policy or program change, a hacker or data breach can impact tens of thousands of customer accounts with significantly less effort.
Consequently, the number of individuals impacted compounds the cost and time to repair the damage caused.
As you move forward with your projects, take the time to consider the obvious. Question the advantages of technology for the problem at hand.
Then do what common sense tells you. It’s one asset that is timeless.
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