Today I had a defeating experience. And as so often, I can learn a lot from it. I thought I created an programming setup that would allow others to use my work easily and efficiently. Well, it didn’t work out. Today, I had to see how somebody without my level of expertise was able to screw the whole setting up, causing me up to two hours trying to get it working again. I apologised a lot. I felt very much ashamed. The other one will never use my setup.

How did it get so far? I forgot all the pain I had while becoming an expert. Like learning to drive a bike. It becomes so easy you forget how difficult (and even painful) it was to reach that level of expertise that allows you to drive everywhere. Clearly it’s easy from there to transport stuff on the bike if that person provides you with the right equipment. But you still need to be able to drive that bike from A to B. No way around.

What did I do in the last months? I added complexity ot my company. I created something that nobody will ever use. It is too difficult to even start with. I shouldn’t do anything that is too complex. Small steps. Understandable steps. I can’t stand it. I can’t make big leaps…

… unless I really teach everybody exactly how to use my stuff. But how? It demands a lot of effort. How to convince others that it’s worth to do so?

Teach “How to think”, not “What to think”

I read something interesting today. It was a story about a guy who tought the chairman of Intel Andy Grove about a problem that Intel faced. The interesting bit is how he tought it. Instead of telling the chairman the problem he explained first a model that he uses. In a second step he showed how to apply the model in a different sector (steel sector). The chairman understood the consequences for Intel on his own as a third step.

The interesting part is that the author (Clayton Christensen) is convinced that he wouldn’t have been heard if he would have told Grove directly his message. For anyone who wants to read it as well, look at “Making Strategy Work”, from the Lessons Learned series, 50 Lessons, Boston, pp. 31-38.

This links in with everything else I learned in the last months. It is quite similar to the persuasive funnel from Gillen (Terry Gillen (1999): Agreed! Improve your powers of influence, IPD). Both avoid to influence through direct teaching.