Saturday, March 28, 2015

Hacking Statistics with Rollerblades

On a campaign two years ago I used rollerblades to really hit our numbers. The formal types thought this kind of thing might put people off, but in reality it was a great conversation starter—especially on the fourth story floor of apartments with a concrete stairwell. 

The idea came from a statistical realization. Official instructions (with our many doors to hit) were to wait 10 seconds after ringing or knocking to leave. But add 30 seconds to get from door to door, and you suddenly have over 2 HOURS of WALKING between houses, before the door waiting, and before you have any opportunity to talk to somebody: all in only 4-10 hours of walking (depending on the campaign and desperation). 

The time between doors would be from half to twenty percent of your total time out—that would not do. 

[As a quick digression: this kind of computation with some basic numbers is how you can quickly cut through the BS in life, pushed by everyone, to get to what's really going on: these organizations proudly market themselves as highly professional and reputable--they don't walk on the grass, able to logistically hit all the doors you need, etc. etc. without it being, really, mathematically possible.]

So I pulled-out my ol' reliable pair and hit the road. This isn't something I would advise for everyone--they're more like an extension to my body than something strapped-on and so I can run across gravel (faceplants most people), grass, up hills, over cobbled sidewalks and roads, and generally act like they are no different than being a typical pedestrian.

But for hitting numbers at doors, they're a massive difference. Rollerbaldes reduce times between houses when on concrete to a quarter or less than they would be otherwise; a Rollerblade typically has a wheel jutting out from the front which, when running, gives you an extension beyond their height and lets you run even faster than you could otherwise.

In a word, they're a blade to cut the logistical gordian knot and get to the point--knocking on a door.

That kind of realization and implementation is typically what people like to call ‘creative’ but which aren’t really “acceptable” by those who want to be “reputable.” It's also the kind of thinking you find engineers engaged in constantly--when those reputable and formal kind aren't heavy handedly interfering.

It's also the sort of hack in life that gets you further than everyone else in some task: by the end of that campaign I was hitting hundreds a shift and waiting at each door--and avoiding the grass, mostly.

Essentially, campaign organizations are so much numbers vs. quality they hardly speak to anyone, even while pretending that they do otherwise. And rules like “we walk on the sidewalks and not the grass” are a far cry from the real practice and training, “ahem…walk on the grass.” 

That "we walk on the grass" kind of advice is a comparable disreputability and perhaps a subject for another installment.

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