The dinner test

Walnut and imperfect, waxy to the touch, it was where we ate. Get too close, and you could see (really) dinners past, hear conversations past. It was just a table. But it was The Dinnertable. More than that still, the dinnertable was a time for reporting in on tests. (How was the math test? Well) It was a time for brothers and sisters to live up to tests. (I can finish mine faster that you. And other competitions.) But the dinnertable is also a place for prototyping. A place to test.

See also:
Jared Spool’s 5-Second Usability Tests

Sometimes when beaten down with a baffling decision — when long-term metrics and pros-and-cons-columns have failed — I think of the table. Not what my goals are 10 years out, not how this decision might work out with my long-term strategy. Those can seem too esoteric, not real. Instead, I think of a future table 10 years out with friends and family, and the story I’m telling. What do I care about then? What do I want my story be?

This is the dinner test.

Someone once said to me, and I paraphrase, that “everything can be solved over dinner.” Perhaps it can. Perhaps we can tell something (or everything) about a future scenario in a few seconds. Perhaps everything can be solved over the dinnertable, and if we know the stories we want to tell, I would only add, “solved, prototyped, and predicted.”