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Archive for October, 2007

YOU NEED A BIGGER HAMMER

Wednesday, October 31st, 2007

 Norman; 

I saw a commercial on the telly recently, that showed a fellow on the phone with a doctor. The doctor was telling him where to make an incision for a surgical procedure, as if the fellow were about to do it himself. Ridiculous, isn’t it? That was the point of the commercial. I think they were offering professional portfolio management. But the idea is widely applicable. There are some things best left to the experts and trained professionals.

 

How often do we do this in everyday life? We don’t want to go to the expense of hiring an attorney to review a lease or purchase agreement. So we try to “do it yourself” and maybe pay the consequences later. Or we tear down a machine, which we do not understand, to try and fix it ourselves, and wind up with all kinds of added problems. The old ways of being the “Yankee fix-it, Do-It-Yourself person” really do die hard in a high tech world. Some things can be done this way, others need professional help. The trick is to know which one is which.

 

The argument is always. “They charge too much! All he did was twist the do-jigger and it worked, and then charged me $150.00!” Well, so the work was done, and it was simple. But how long would it have taken you to find the right do-jigger to twist? How many of the wrong do-jiggers did you twist before you found the right one? How long is the machine down while you try by trial and error to fix it? Keep in mind, you did not pay the person to twist the do-jigger. You paid the person because they knew which do-jigger to twist!

 

This is an important distinction that too many people forget. You do not pay the expert for what they do, you paying them for knowing WHAT to do. And along with their knowledge, today’s technicians need to invest a lot of money in special equipment to analyze and diagnose today’s machinery. It is hardly worth the expenditure of the average person’s resources, to purchase a gee-golly whizbang-O-meter for the occasional need. You need the person who uses one all the time, knows how to use it, and knows what to do with it.

 

Contract law has become so complex, it really does take an expert to evaluate and protect the client from hidden or obscurely phrased clauses that can hurt you in the future. After all, the one who had the document drawn up had their attorney write it with their interests in mind, not yours! So, if they are willing to pay an attorney to do this, how much sense does it make for you to try and outfox them yourself? Investing in your own attorney, who is looking out for YOUR interests is more than desirable, it is now a necessity!

 

This is not 1910, when things were simple: legally, medically, socially, economically, or mechanically/electrically. The rate of complexity is developing exponentially, and we are balanced on the tip of a more complex, more involved and intricately intertwined structure to our world than many are willing to recognize. We must rely on those who understand their part of it to tend to the parts at which we can only guess. Take something as simple as the timer in a washer. Once it was a simple bun type synchronous motor, driving a few simple gears that turned a drum, with cam risers that opened and closed a series of switches that in turn controlled the various functions as it rotated. All the cycle times were fixed, and things were simple. You start it, it does its thing, it quits. You could replace the motor, or clean the contacts on the switches. Some of these are still around, but that is changing rapidly.

 

Now we have machines with programmable solid state microprocessors that are adjustable, IF you know how to input the right information. And they control functions that earlier machines did not even come near to having. And they are subject to all kinds of failures that older, simpler machines would shrug off. Most are voltage sensitive. Power surges, brownouts and other gremlins from many other sources can really mess up some of these devices. So how do you fix one of these when they go bad? You don’t! You need a qualified technician.

 

Aren’t card systems wonderful? They allow all kinds of flexible and variable pricing. They eliminate having to collect from each machine. They eliminate coins being in each machine to tempt thieves. BUT unlike simple coin acceptors, which could generally be repaired with a screwdriver and a pair of pliers, you need to be a qualified electrical wizard with a generous touch of computer nerd to work on them. Again, you need the qualified technician.

 

Our cars, our home appliances, and the DVD’s, CD’s, computers, printers, cell phones, I-this and that, and other equipment we work with daily are well beyond most people’s skill levels and yet we still try to be shade tree mechanics. We pay high dollars for our high tech equipment and then try to treat it like we did our 1965 Chevy Nova. We make jokes about getting the neighbor’s 10 year old to program our VCR. Yet many people, who cannot even set up their own radio alarm clock, insist on tearing into a new machine as if they knew what they were doing.

 

The title of this piece? The joke around here is if it doesn’t work, give it a Kentucky Tune Up. That is, give it a whack! And if that doesn’t work, get a bigger hammer. We are past the point where can fix something with a whack. Now you need brains and education to get it done, or you must be willing to pay the expert for what needs doing. Or do you just need a bigger hammer?
















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