The answer would surprise you. My Grandma used to love sharing her recipes at church with the others who decided not to buy her food at the bake sale. The recipe she shared never seemed to give the same flavor as the gourmet delights she used to sell on Sundays.The flavor of those recipes comes from the experience she had while she was cooking. Other than a simple recipe a cooking process is more than putting together pieces like a math equation. For this reason she knew that her recipes were always safe because the person doing the cooking didn't have have the same experience as she did during those critical moments of the preparation or cooking process.As with cooking there are other professions which can't be described in such a way that allows someone to get the same results as someone who carries with them the same experience.
Proactive vs. Reactive
How do we explain what didn't happen when we know what would have happened if we had not done what we had done?Catch-22: Many times I am forced to send a client off to try something on their own because until they have their own experience in any given situation they may not appreciate the value of the person they are paying to guide them.As a humble consultant it's not always easy to tell a curious client that no matter how much they study there actually is a skill level to doing what they just don't have the experience to do effectively. For this reason, buying lunch to pick the brain of your consultant may not bring the results you expect. It may just give you nothing more than a recipe from Grandma.The experience of any profession often times comes in the ability to be proactive by preventing things often encountered by people with less experience in your area of expertise. Moreso it is terribly difficult to articulate how many disasters were prevented by things which we do.As a client it is often difficult to put your trust and investment into a person when human nature says to go to Youtube or research how to accomplish something. I encourage this from anyone willing to try because this is how we learn. The challenge is to delegate when something is best suited for a higher level of skill or experience. This is where it gets tricky because in this field, as well as others, there are things we help clients avoid which reduce or eliminate cost overruns or delays.One of the greatest challenges of course is that my profession has no title that is as clean as many others.Technology Consultant disguised as the "computer repair guy":This is a collective title which includes a history of experience that can be applied to any number of scenarios in order to help people make decisions in their projects. In the course of my career I've had the privilege of wearing many hats and some of those hats were given to me by circumstance. Often times the circumstance is that the industry didn't yet have a title for what I do so I was put into an area where my background and skill was suited to get something done. As a result of these experiences my crossover into many technical areas has been extremely diverse and quite colorful.With this title comes a list of many experiences:By working in all of these areas I'm able to supervise the work of others who carry the skill sets in each task. The background gives me what I need to oversee and make sure that the talent doing the work is doing it in the most effective, proactive, cognitive way possible. When put to task to do these things on my own I quite possible will do them slower or by my age unable to do them as well as industry experts. For this reason I delegate my work to professionals who do it better than I do. They do it under my supervision so I can assure my clients that their work is being done at the highest quality possible.We might struggle to watch any other person doing work but under this supervision we are accomplishing many things:1.) Teaching a new generation of experts to do their work even better2.) Delagating so we can use our time more effectively with quality oversight over a complete project
How much will you save on your project...
by using a meal or drinks as the payment method to expert feedback?
Measure Twice: Cut Once
On average I cut a client cost in half whether they are able to see it before or after. Based on the experience of my work I can see where costs can grow and decisions we make help avoid those all too common situations. Advice obtained during a well-meaning meal or drink will rarely be sufficient to prepare someone for all of the situations that come during any given moment of an I.T. project.Many folks enjoy being invited somewhere. Sometimes others prefer to stay home with their family after spending their time working outside of home. In my world I don't get invited to go many places because I'm better at technical things than I am in social situations. For this reason I don't appear in many pictures. Let's imagine for a moment though that a person offering any number of services was rarely, or never, invited to join friends but the same people ask for the friends and family discount. I may not invite myself places either so I get it. Us geeks have odd personalities. Regardless of our quirky behavior the value of the experience and feedback is still worthy of more than food or drinks. And of course if you want to add a different flavor to a social gathering invite someone who isn't always the same as everyone else. Maybe you'll get a good deal on your next tech project or accidentally make a friend with an odd personality.