Talking through the Troublesome Ten Percent
Brilliant Technicians can be Eloquent with the Right Topic and Right Audience
Say you have this friend. And your friend is a genius. She invents stuff all the time—important stuff people want. People buy this stuff and are even willing to spend significant money for it. And the stuff she invents works…mostly. It works, but it needs help. It works 90% of the time, but needs 10% adjusting and tweaking and, well, help. Your friend knows this. She knows she is brilliant at putting the technology together to meet a particular need. But she also knows she and her team work like demons once their unique idea is in place. They work like demons because each of their unique ideas requires constant adjustment as they are put into place, adjustments peculiar to the customer that bought the solution.
This last 10% is the source of significant pain and long hours for your friend’s team. This is because the customer bought the unique solution—knowing it was a unique solution—but secretly thinking the unique solution would work right out of the shipping crate. And no matter what your friend said to the customer, that assumption that it would work right out of the crate persisted in the customer’s mind.
That last 10% is a technology problem but it is also a communication fail. The customer perceived one thing and received another—whether or not the customer’s perception was accurate. In fact, the last 10% has much more to do with conversation than it does with technology. How so? Because conversation between those who understand the solution and the problem must take place before the solution becomes a fully realized solution. Because conversation is the give and take between people as they listen and offer suggestions, over and over again.
Introduce Your Brilliant Friend Around
Conversations are not magic (or…are they?) but they accomplish much more than we can understand. They are great at connecting, where people begin to understand each other. They are great at diffusing tense situations simply by passing words between people. They also can inoculate against tense situations before those situations occur. All of this through the regenerating power of relationship that happens when people connect. I and have argued that letting people into a process earlier only helps the process.
Helping your brilliant friend talk about the solution she is putting together, even to engage the customer in the last ten percent may be the most productive thing you can do for your friend, her company and her customers.
There are ways to do this. Painless ways that lie outside of the old media channels. Ways that can do far more good than you may realize.