If you have the privilege of working in an intergenerational office, you probably have a well-balanced view of the industry. There are those who remember the birth of the industry, and have been doing things a certain way for decades. Then there are those who are just learning to spell A-V, and question why they must do something in a particular way.
Any resulting progress is typically slow, yet low-risk. The young-guns come up with a new way to do something, and the silver-backs come up with reasons why it won’t work. Sometimes the new way wins out (or a piece of it), and sometimes the idea gets trashed, but there is overall some slow progress.
This is not the way to be a disruptor, but it is a way to avoid mistakes (i.e., keep the business solvent). We do read a lot about the successful disruptors. They are in the news and sometimes make a ton of money. However, we also hear stories about the noble, but unsuccessful, disruptors, typically because they are looking for new jobs. They had a great idea to shake up the industry, but for many different possible reasons, it just didn’t work. Successful or not, you have to respect those with the vision and the chutzpah to make an attempt at a different way of doing things.
I had these thoughts at a recent training I attended where a manufacturer decided to make drastic changes to the way they have been doing things for decades. At this point in my career, I’m kind of straddling the boomer/millennial line. So, half of me was excited to learn a new way of doing acoustic echo cancellation. The other half of me was thinking, “Why? Just…why?” If I’m being honest, I wasn’t too impressed with the new way. It was clunky. It was seemingly complicated. It was…different.
The instructor explained the new way. I didn’t like it. Then we did an easy example with the new way. I still didn’t like it. Then we did a reasonably difficult example. I still didn’-…wait a minute. It clicked. It made sense. I totally understood where the programmers were coming from. It was actually way easier to create an echo reference with this new method. It was also way easier to teach a team of new audio programmers how to create that reference with this new method.
If I’m still being honest, I’m not convinced it will be accepted by the industry. People have been doing AEC referencing a certain way for a long time. Making it a little easier is great for those with no experience. For those who have been programming DSPs for as long as they’ve existed may have a bit more reluctance to adopt this new idea. The manufacturer should be commended for their new approach. Lessons will be learned by them and the industry by this disruption, regardless of its success.
I left the training perfectly on the fence, just where an industrial psychologist would expect a person of my age to be. I am not eager to pick up a new way of doing things (especially since the old way still works incredibly well), but I am impressed with the elegance of the idea. For those millennials reading this, my overall impression is equal parts: