Finding myself on the other side of the table in the consumer-vendor relationship has resulted in some eye opening experiences. These are things I look back on, and realize that I strenuously avoided doing during my Scalable days. But I see everyone doing it now, as they try to sell me stuff, or convince me to use things.
One of the eye opening things is a bit of typecasting of sorts. This typecasting is, think of it this way, assigning roles and capabilities to people based upon some external factor or attribute of the person. More in a moment.
The other eye opening thing is the degree of “trust us, we know what we are doing.” Not “hey, we’ll give you a deep dive into how all of this works” as the basis of the why-we-think-it-is-better. Sometimes this worked against us, as our now well educated customers would go off armed with more knowledge and use that to beat our competitors over the head, usually to get them to promise to deliver what we delivered. Rarely if ever did it really work, but it gave the purchasing folks a reason to hang their hat on as to why they should buy an inferior more costly solution, which didn’t solve the core problem.
But I digress.
The “trust us, we know what we are doing” goes hand in hand with they typecasting. You see, it seems that vendors like counting the numbers of Ph.D. types they have, pointing out that Ph.D.’s are smart, and hard to keep happy unless they are working on hard problems. And because they are smart, we should simply trust that what they are doing is right.
Now my business card doesn’t indicate my Ph.D. in computational physics.
But I purposefully sit there stone faced when they tell me these things, and ask relevant questions. How have they done X, what did they do about Y.
Some of the time, I am told, don’t worry my pretty little head (well, not literally, but you know what I mean).
Some of the time, I am reassured that their Ph.D. is very smart, and wouldn’t get this wrong.
Hmmm. Maybe I’m doing the business thing wrong. Mebbe I should style my name as Dr. Joe on my business cards. I earned it after all. Says so on the degree.
But what I find with these folks are that, despite their uncountably infinite number of “Really Smart Ph.D.s(&tm;)”, sometimes … they make mistakes. And when they do, watching product managers, sales execs, and application engineers sputter while trying to answer basic questions is not helping my confidence in their abilities.
Know what would? Sending those “Really Smart Ph.D.s(&tm;)” over so I can talk with them, maybe mind meld or something, so as not to play effectively telephone between people who really understand the problems they are trying to solve, and the people who claim to have solved them.
Seriously, they keep all their Ph.D.’s at the office. Probably lured them in with tasty snacks or something. Then start feeding them these hard problems they think they have.
When in reality, having a Ph.D. doesn’t grant you immunity from making mistakes, doesn’t really mean you are super smart … actually could be the opposite, depending upon the program you went through … could be better correlated with severe masochistic tendencies.
Its that typecast of really smart people with some advanced degree, in a back room somewhere, that I find … well … interesting. And based upon that, I see quite a bit of “trust us, we have these people, they are eating their noon snack, and are totally dedicated to your problems”.
Erm … ok.
The only time I ever let myself be referred to as Dr. in the past was for press releases at Scalable, presentations I gave in front of large audiences, or when I taught classes. Otherwise I’m just an ordinary Joe.
If it makes conversations easier to have then, mebbe, I’ll start styling myself with the title I’ve earned two decades ago. Though I suspect I’d be locked in a back room somewhere, given snacks and fed hard problems …
 See https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/20140917154833-7202644-effective-communication-stop-playing-the-telephone-game/