D'Arcy from Winnipeg
Solution Architecture, Business & Entrepreneurship, Microsoft, and Adoption

So maybe we’re nurse practitioners?

Thursday, July 10, 2008 11:12 AM

David Laribee posted a blog response to a post by Jeff Palermo, where he disputes Jeff’s usage of a doctor analogy when comparing software professional’s interactions with a client.

Jeff talks about how we’re like doctors: our client tells us what the pain is, and its our job to figure out what the cure for that pain is.

David argues the other side: clients know their business better than we do and they know what they want; its our job to determine technically how that gets implemented.

I think they’re both right. In the same way we have different levels of knowledge, technique, and awareness in software development, so it is with businesses.

I’ve been in businesses that definitely know their business and know what they want, even down to the type of technology solution (i.e. We’ve used Excel for a similar solution like this before, and for these reasons we want to continue doing so).

I’ve also been in businesses that say things like “It takes way too long to count our inventory” or “We need to communicate with our remote stores better.” Sure they know their business better than I do, but that doesn’t mean that I as a consultant can’t open dialogue to flesh out underlying issues and offer solutions.

For instance, the business where inventory takes too long to count: Maybe we could give them a hand-held scanner solution to count their inventory…but what if the inventory isn’t stored in a good layout, or there’s missed opportunity to utilize staff to count parts of the inventory during the week in slow times? Isn’t it our obligation to the business to also offer those insights as we see them? Not in a haughty way, but in a way that offers a suggestion..and maybe there’s a great answer as to why things are done a certain way, but maybe all that’s needed is a new set of eyes.

I guess my point is that we need to make sure that whatever approach we take, we need to default to one key rule: Do whatever is going to be in the best interest of the client. Some clients may not need you in the doctor role, some clients may just need you to be the implementer. We need to learn when to use each approach.



# re: So maybe we’re nurse practitioners?

It's so obvious that we are chiropractors.

++Alan 7/10/2008 12:09 PM | Alan Stevens

# re: So maybe we’re nurse practitioners?

I can see both sides of the argument really.

I think the fallacy in Jefferey's argument is assuming that the "patient" has no idea what the problem is. If I break my leg, I'm damn sure going to go see a doctor and *tell* him I want it put in a cast.

Now, he may be able to offer me different types of casts based on my particular needs. But for sure when I go in to see him, my expectation is he will build me a cast of some kind for my leg.

So the analogy then as I see it, sometimes we have a red alert emergency where a patient is unconscious and we have to rely on our expertise to solve the issue appropriately, sometimes the patient knows there is a problem but does not know how to solve it, and other times a patient knows exactly what the problem is and how it should be fixed.

I guess what I'm saying is each situation is dynamic and I don't think every situation can be absolutely categorized one way.

-Shane 7/10/2008 1:20 PM | shane

# re: So maybe we’re nurse practitioners?

Good middle road, I'd say. I like the fact that we can have these discussions without getting too bent out of shape. 7/11/2008 12:43 AM | Dave

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