Are you a technician or a problem solver?

Posted by in Productivity

Are you a technician or a problem solver?

It’s the scourge of knowledge workers everywhere: faced with a complex challenge, you wax eloquent on the intrinsics of the matter, yet somehow remain perfectly unable to convey what things will be like after you’ve solved it – to your detriment.


Let’s see if you recognize the following scenario: you’re highly proficient in a given subject, and have been presented with a request to aid someone in solving a problem related to your area of expertise. After you’ve agreed to help, you start discussing the matter. Then, about 60 seconds or so in (or earlier, if you’re really good at what you do), you suddenly stop to notice that the other person’s eyes have glazed over.


You’ve just committed technicide.


The reason the other person’s eyes have glazed over isn’t necessarily because they don’t understand what you’re talking about. It’s because They. Frequently. Don’t. Care. The reason they came to you in the first place is because they imagine a future state in which they, unable to solve the problem and care little about how it is solved, imagine that you – with your expertise – will be able to do it for them. They do not imagine that they will be accidentally murdered to death by technical details during the process.


Now, this isn’t too bad if it’s something you do in your spare time. If you’re lucky, people will think of it as a charming little quirk of yours. Or a reason they want to murder you to death, but refrain from following up on because you can solve their problem.


If you’re doing this in a professional capacity, on the other hand… oh my. You see, people may be interested in technical details. To a point. But, unless the person you need to convince to follow your advice or accept your presented solution is similarly inclined, he or she will be far more interested in what things will be like after you’ve wrought magic. They’ll have more time – or less stress. They’ll save money. Help more people. Or whatever is important to them on a more emotional level.


It’s simple, really. Do you want the auto shop to make your car run like clockwork, or listen to a mechanic wax nostalgic on the intricacies of non-linear power transmission?