“We got another error report from section 4. The product seems to have an undefined defect.”
Jack stopped typing on his keyboard and looked up from the screen.
“What’s wrong? What kind of error?”
Bob gave a shrug.
“No idea. It’s either a bug or number 203 again.”
“Again?” Jack was unwilling to believe it. “I thought we took care of that?”
“I suppose we have to look into it a bit deeper before we can draw any conclusions…”
Bob went to his computer and started typing something. He didn’t seem too eager to get to work.
“We have the sample in the testing room now. Let’s see… yea. Definitely 203.”
Jack shook his head. He sighed.
“I thought we fixed it. I don’t know why this keeps on happening again and again.”
Little pop-ups started appearing on Bob’s screen. He took out a huge manual and started counterchecking the values one by one. His frustration grew as the hours passed without finding the defect.
“So far all these values are exactly like we programmed them. Section 4 is our best product in design and features. With the tests we ran it should be perfectly compatible with about 93% of the competition’s product. I don’t understand…”
“Let’s check it together,” Jack offered. “I can look at the manual. Give it to me.”
He held out his hands and Bob handed him the heavy book. Jack flipped a few pages back, to start from the beginning again, while Bob closed the unnecessary pop-ups on his screen.
“Do you think it’s the design or the software?” Jack asked.
“Well, I guess we have to check both, just to make sure,” Bob was getting exhausted by his own answer.
“Also,” he added, “I really hope we have the latest values of the competition. Otherwise our reactions are totally worthless.”
“Don’t worry, our inside man is 100% reliable”, countered Jack. “He knows exactly what he is doing, and he knows we have ways to monitor him…”
“Ok, then let’s get to it.”
While Jack was reading out values page by page, Bob checked them on the screen again. It did not lead to any more success than he had when he was doing it alone. Three hours and a lot of curses later, the two looked at each other in silent capitulation.
“Everything is exactly as it should be. I really wonder where this is coming from. Do you think we have to forget about the product compatibility and try to sell it as an independent product??”
It was Jack who had said that. Bob was taking his time to answer. He did not seem too happy about the question, but the lines on his forehead revealed that he had already thought about this option.
“It would be the only possibility to keep our customers,” he finally sighed. “If we continue selling it like that, and it remains incompatible, we will lose them all to the competition. Following their single-sample approach is the only way to split the market and keep half of it.”
“In the best case scenario,” added Jack quietly.
“We would have to reprogram a bit or the 203 keeps on happening. We have to modify our product and erase the memory about the coupling.”
“We need to understand why the competition follows this approach. Sharing the market instead of splitting it would be the better solution for everybody.”
Bob nodded. “Call him.”
“Our inside man?”
While Bob pretended to ponder what the problem could be (although obviously he had as much of a clue as Jack concerning this matter), Jack dialed a number. He spoke for a while quietly in the other corner of the room, then hung up. Bob had not been able to understand much.
“Apparently they had a 203-problem as well.”
“What do you mean?” asked Bob, curious.
“Well, it seems like when they try to sell the product with a coupling option, they get the 203-error constantly. Like we get it because of the incompatibility. But for them it looks like the solution lies in the incompatibility – removing the compatibility removes the 203 problem.”
“While ours seems to arise exactly from this fact…”
Jack nodded while he was going back to his computer.
“They sell only XY-products, and we sell only XX-products. It looks like the incompatibility is the cause for 203 and the other way round. If they make their products incompatible with ours because 203 occurs otherwise, it most certainly applies to all their XY-products from all sections.”
Bob was excited to get to work. He started the other computers and waited for them to light up.
“Ok, let’s do it. We program our XX-products from all sections so that they are incompatible with theirs and thus erase 203.”
Jack nodded. He went to the manual, opened it at the right page and just tear it out.
“We won’t need this description anymore, after all,” he mumbled, while he tossed it in the nearest trash.
The title of the page said: Error 203 – Unhappiness.
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