“Music is a language that doesn’t speak in particular words. It speaks in emotions, and if it’s in the bones, it’s in the bones.” ― Keith Richards

Our head software engineer at Thrive, Clark Slater, is an interesting guy. During the week Clark spends many hours in silence, solving complex software problems (to our clients delight) writing code. On weekends, Clark spends his time in a buzz where he solves (or perhaps introduces) human problems to his listeners’ delight – by playing music with his band. As head of customer success who spends a lot of time with our clients, as well as a lot of time with Clark, I was fascinated when he compared companies to music.

“Rousseau, when I think of Thrive I think of a high resolution digital audio sampler – you can clearly hear the sound.  I think many organizations listen to their people with a badly sampled digital recording. The recording provides them with something to listen to, but it doesn’t really mean anything…it’s not representative of the actual situation. They don’t hear the song their people are singing.”

I really enjoy listening to music but I don’t make music so naturally I was a little confused about Clark’s statement at first. He urged me to think about digital sampling as a way to represent or approximate an actual sound. Imagine your favorite musician is playing you a song. Since sound is a wave, we can represent a moment of this song visually by plotting it onto an XY axis, where the X axis is time and the Y axis is the amplitude of the sound wave. Like this:

The above wave is in analog form, which means it is the actual sound wave as it appears in the natural world. Notice that an analog wave is continuous and smooth.  If we want to store a representation of this wave in a computer, we must digitize it. Computers can only deal with finite amounts of information so it is necessary to come up with an approach to approximate the shape of the analog wave so that it can be stored digitally. This method is known as sampling. Sampling is the process of taking measurements on a certain schedule. In this case we will take a measurement of the amplitude of the wave at each point in time. If we have a limited amount of samples, we will get only a very rough approximation of the actual wave. Notice below an image of the same analog wave as above, sampled only 6 times while digitizing it. Each sample is represented by a green dot. You can see that the resulting green shape somewhat resembles the original wave, but not very closely: 

This type of low sample rate results in a distorted version of the actual sound:

 

You likely noticed that the above sounds muffled, and is difficult to comprehend. But if we sample the same wave much more often, we see that the digital version follows the original much more closely, giving us a more accurate reproduction of the actual sound.

The Thrive Platform functions as a human sampler. Instead of gathering samples only at certain points of a year, Thrive is able to quickly gather samples on a much more frequent basis, giving you a better representation of what is actually happening in your organization and with your customers. With Thrive, you can clearly hear the sound your organization and customers are making:

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