We believe in lifelong learning for teammates and clients alike. We consider “teaching our teammates/clients to fish” (rather than fostering an unhealthy dependency upon us) to be an important part of the work we do.
One of the many benefits of being a lost ball in high tech weeds all these years has been to be surrounded by true IT pros for whom lifelong learning is a way of life. You can’t survive in the technology industry without continuing education along the way. However, outsiders would be amazed at how little sales guys like me understand about the underlying technology they’re selling. Those who know me aren’t the least surprised to hear me say that.
Since entering the IT industry in 1978, I’ve actually never sold one byte of technology. I’ve simply been selling the services of really smart folks who understand the technology whilst remaining comfortably clueless as to the ingredients within the acronym soup du jour. I understand people who understand technology.
Have you ever been around brainiacs who think the way to make themselves irreplaceable is by hoarding their knowledge? Getting useful information out of them is akin to lancing a boil. Yuck!
I find such people insufferable. That’s why I tell our clients that they’re paying us for everything between our consultants’ two ears. And, I tell our consultants it’s their responsibility to share whatever useful knowledge they have with our clients—everything. Withholding knowledge from clients creates an unhealthy dependency that inevitably leads to bitterness and resentment. By giving them more than what they’re paying for, we hope to leave them with a sweet, not bitter, taste in their mouths at the end of an engagement.
To date, I’ve been unable to provide anything akin to my IBM educational experiences for our own employees. I truly hope our second quarter century will afford us more opportunities to do so. Turnover within the traditional IT consulting industry is such that we’re forced to recruit folks who already have the knowledge and training we need versus providing it to them. We’re happy to fill in the gaps for those whom we believe to be in IT with us for the long haul, but they need to have most of the prerequisites coming in. As such, we rarely hire someone fresh off the college campus, though I long for the day when we can.
I received my MBA from Taylor University in 2008, 30 years after receiving my BS in Business from Indiana University. It was the achievement of a longstanding goal and one of the most fulfilling things I’ve ever done. I did it for pure joy of learning and for the great fun of mixing it up with fellow students who were the ages of my children. It’s true—to feel young, hang out with those who are. The highlight was a required 10-day trip to Great Britain (Ireland, Scotland, England) during which we visited six different companies, including my personal favorite, Waterford Crystal in Ireland.
Elaine joined me on our MBA class trip, though I nearly lost my lovely lass in Ireland. To this day, we have conflicting stories as to how she ended up walking the streets of Dublin alone at night with no money, credit card or any form of ID. You know the kinds of stories I’m talking about. The ones where the villain (that would be me) gets more evil with each version and the scene gets ever more frightening. I suppose the final version will cast me as the Anti-Christ and Dublin as “Ground Zero” for Armageddon.
Truth be told, the lass walked away from the lad on that ill-fated Dublin night. Just sayin’. Glad you made it back safe and sound, sweetie!