Sunday, April 4, 2010

Giving them what they need, verses what they ask for

A little while ago I was contacted to see if I could help an elderly member of my congregation, she needed some help building a mail box post.  The phone call went something like this

her: Do you have a table saw?

me: ya, what do you need?

her: I need to cut up a 4x4 post

me: ok, what are you building?

her: A mail box post and I need to cut some braces at 45 degree angle, you can do that with a table saw right?

me: Bring your stuff over and I’ll help you build it.

This is a perfect example of someone who knew what they needed, but not how to get it.  What she needed was some supports cut with 45 degree angles, and she knew that a table saw could make 45 degree angle cuts, and true a table was could do it, BUT it’s really not the right tool, you’re far better off using a miter saw.

This got me thinking how often we as “tech” have been asked to do something only later to find out it’s really not what they needed or wanted. 

a possible example:

marketing: we need a share point server.

tech: sure, who needs access

marketing: The graphics designer

tech: you want a share point server for one person?

marketing: yes

tech: what is she going to use it for?

marketing: tracking the changes made to images

tech: you want a share point server to track image images revisions

marketing: yes, is there a problem with that?

tech: Let me show you subversion.

This is a very good example of someone having a need and coming up with a solution without consulting with anyone, and asking for the solution without explaining the problem.  In this case I used a marketing person, but this could just as easily be a developer not consulting with operations, or a DBA not consulting with the developers. 

Far to often we are asked to do things with little or not explanation to the problem we are providing a solution for and we don’t ask questions as to what we are solving and this really is a disservice to who we are helping.

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