Missing The Point (Issue 941)

In which we are reminded to look at the outcomes our clients are seeking to achieve (in addition to understanding what they’re asking for).

So… I was leading a meeting for a client recently. There would be 16 of us in the room, working on a project, and we needed a printer. So, I asked the group leader: “Can you provide a printer in the room so that people don’t have to go 50 yards down the hall or to another floor to print the documents that they’ll need for our sub-group meetings?“

“No,“ he said. “I don’t think we have mobile printers.”

But then he happened to be walking down the hallway a few days later and he saw a copier machine/printer on wheels. So, through methods only he knows about, he was able to secure the printer for our meeting.

A few days after that, we started the meeting. No printer. We worked through the first morning. No printer. We got into the early afternoon… There was a knock at the door and a guy showed up with a printer.

“Wonderful! Bring it in!”  So he did, he plugged it in, fired it up, everything good.

Except… That it was missing the digital keypad that would enable the meeting participants to scan their ID badges and print from their laptops.

One of the group deployed to go find the key. Within an hour he returned with a key.

“OK,” one of the team said. “Let’s test this before we tell the rest of the group that they are free to print on this printer.”


So one of the group pulled up a document, found the printer on the intranet, sent a document off to the machine, and it wouldn’t print.

“OK, let’s try again. I’m not sure why that happened.” Same result. The printer would not print.

 “Is it plugged in?”, ,someone asked.  Not helpful.

“Does it have any paper in it?“, somebody asked. Well of course it does… except, when we looked, the paper drawers were empty..

So the printer guy did his job: he delivered a printer. “Nobody said ‘digital key’… and nobody said that they needed paper. What you said was, you needed a printer and I delivered a printer. The rest of this is your problem.”

I see. Good to define the problem completely before slinging solutions at one’s clients.

Nick Miller trains banks and bankers to attract and expand relationships with business clients. More profitable relationships, faster. He is President of Clarity Advantage based in Concord, MA. Additional articles on Clarity’s web site.

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