The best kind of friend is the one who will tell it to you straight. He won’t hum and haw and pretend to love your idea because he doesn’t want that awkward moment of truth. She trusts your relationship enough to know that while the truth can sting in the moment, in the long run it’s her way of looking out for your best interests. These kind of friends are willing to say, “Don’t be dumb,” and you’re willing to listen.
Well, I have a few of those tell-it-to-me-straight scenarios that I experience with clients:
- Technology support – Dumb technology support is everywhere. I see it all the time. People take the easy route to solve a technical problem. Sometimes they will say that it simply can’t be done. Or they will do one-off fixes that “solve” the problem in the moment but not permanently. Let me give you a common example. Some technicians will manually map a network drive as a temporary fix, when they should spend the extra time to figure out why drive is not automatically mapped when a user logs in. Exceptional support involves thinking through the situation and determining the best path for the longer term solution. And saying something can’t be done? Unacceptable.
- Buying gear – Inexpensive equipment is often a bad deal. We’ve all been there before – we buy something cheap and it dies before we’ve paid the credit card bill. By all means compare options and prices, but don’t let price be your only driver. Look for value and challenge yourself to think about what you really need.
- Demo-driven software purchases – I see it all the time. A company needs new software to handle one or several of their business needs, and they do a Google search to find a few options that might address their needs. They do some demos and choose the one that looks the best. They buy that system to only find out that it has some major limitations. This problem is easily addressed by doing two things – document a needs assessment before the demo. Make the vendor tell you how the software will address each required item, then attach that assessment to the vendor’s agreement. Define success on your terms, not theirs.
- Low budget – Just because you can get away with not having a technology budget (or a really low one), does not mean you should. We see this syndrome over and over with very consistent results. The companies without a thoughtful budget have a much higher rate of problems and downtime. Not to mention that employees are miserable when their essential technology is unreliable. Be smart and make sure your technology line item is as thoughtfully considered as your the rest of your budget.
Now even the best friend in the world isn’t going to prevent you (or me) from occasionally making dumb decisions. It’s called free will and it’s been getting us in trouble for millennia. It’s how you handle your own and other’s bad decisions that defines character. In other words, what do you do when bad things happen? But that’s a whole other blog article.