Do the Work, Don’t Find the Answer

Do the Work, Don’t Find the Answer

Few years ago, a team at Duke University claimed to have discovered a way to match a tumor’s patient-specific DNA to the precise medicine required to cure the disease.  It was considered a watershed moment in cancer research.  That is, until it was scrutinized by third party sources.  What they found was two sets of data.  One set was the patient’s actual data.  The other set was a slightly doctored version of that data.  The formulas and tests only functioned under the false data set.

Whe we are faced with a massive challenge in our careers, perhaps the kind of seemingly insurmountable challenge cancer seems to pose, it is tempting to find the quickest, most glorious route to success.  If you are asked to hire a consultant or a contractor, you hope your hire swoops in and magically resolves all of your problems.  If you are that consultant or contractors, you hope your cape is freshly laundered and ready for heroics.

It wont work that way though.

Do the Work

When you are on a project – self selected or otherwise – do your due dilligence.  Ask all of the questions, research all of the angles, figure out a method of approach.  If you can swing in and fix everything all at once, either the people that hired you should not be in charge or you have done something wrong.

Generally speaking, problems don’t arise from nothing.  Business is a complicated web and especially in the tech field, things can get messy very quickly.  Rather than looking for one simple problem spot and treating the symptom, do as a doctor would when treating a patient – look at the whole body of work, locate the sections that are in trouble and then treat the whole body.  Sometimes rewiring one section causes ripples which may heal another.  Sometimes the solution is wrapped in so many layers of minor issues, it’s like untieing a chaotic knot.

Don’t assume your solution will be isolated.  More likely, for you to be able to do an appropriately good job, you will need to get in and do the nitty gritty work through all of the details.

Don’t Find the Answer

Like the above, don’t look for the answer, look  at the holistic project.  It’s easy to be asked for x and perform x, but when that is all you do really perform x-1.

Ask any doctor, when a patient comes to see them, the patient very rarely knows exactly what they want or need.  They recognize there is a problem, yes, but they could not tell you “doctor, I have a node in my throat which has been caused by improper use of my vocal chords and stress.”  No, patients come in and say “My voice sounds funny, can you help?”

Like a doctor, your job will be to find the issue and – more importantly – find the roots.  Treat the issue, you get paid.  Treat the roots, you become noteworthy.

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