I’m always happy to consult with a colleague whenever they have an issue or need to talk through a new idea. Really, I think of myself more as a facilitator than as a “do-er.” That is to say I specialize in getting the person needing the answer and the person who has the answer together so they work together to find the mutually acceptable solution. In practice, that means I need to know where content lives more than I need to know actual content. Knowing how and who to ask for things is every bit as important as being able to do the actual work involved. The two live in symbiosis – knowledge and action.
The real problem starts when you run into someone who neither has the knowledge or the ability to take action. Take the example of Mr. X for instance. At least twice a day Mr. X comes to my little section of cubicle hell and asks me to proofread and email he wants to send – usually a message asking for something or verifying some type of information. These emails are all well and good – I mean the rapid transmission of information is one of the reasons email is a great form of communication – but it’s not really an “email” when the “draft” you send me to look at is scratched out on the back of an old memo.
Seriously. I don’t know how exactly many times I can tell someone to just “send me the electrons” before it sinks in that I’m not going to spend time making “pen and ink” changes. Of course the need for these changes could be eliminated if we could all just take responsibility for knowing our own jobs and being able to formulate a simple request for information from someone working in a different office. As it turns out, that’s more than I can reasonably expect.
Editorial Note: This is part of a continuing series of previously unattributed posts appearing on http://www.jeffreytharp.com for the first time. This post has been time stamped to correspond to its original publication date.