For years as an IT diagnostician, my most sought-after skill was being able to know someone’s mind (and thus their technology needs) well enough to anticipate needs, or at the least being able to translate needs into something I can deliver.
Later as an IT Director and V-P, when onboarding beginner Tier 1 tech support folks, I called it “developing a shared language.” The user has the language of their specific business discipline but often is at a loss of how to communicate those needs into something actionable. It’s the job of the Consultant, be they internal or external, to understand as much as possible of the user’s experience in order to provide a good and lasting product.
My longest continual path to such enlightenment has been around the house, and I can report that in one small example, I have reached nirvana:
Last night my wife said that the upstairs air conditioner was making a loud noise when starting up. And of course, when she turned the thermostat down, it wouldn’t do it. I said “No need. I’m sure what you’re describing is that the start capacitor is going bad. I’ll get one tomorrow and install it.”
To recap: without actually observing the problem nor hearing the noise firsthand, I was able to trust our long development of communication skills sufficiently to diagnose.
So I bought a $15 part at my favorite supply house, installed it, and quiet reigns supreme again.
But the stakes are now higher that I can pull it off the next time…