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Tools Don’t Solve Your Problems

November 6, 2015

One problem we run into is when customers try to solve their problems with tools. Sometimes, they become fixed on a specific device, such as an iMac or a specific piece of software, such as insisting an ELN will fix all their problems. Without understanding the problem, that’s not typically true.

What happens, quite often, is that people hear or read articles full of hype that illustrate how great one tool or another will be. They read that these tools make everyone more efficient, smarter and better-looking. They become convinced that whatever this tool is is what they need.

However, tools are just a piece of the puzzle. To begin with, you have to determine what your true problem is. This is actually quite hard – it’s the most challenging part of this. If someone were to come to me and say something like, “My problem is that my entire lab is a big, lazy mass of goofballs,” then I would probably suspect they hadn’t taken this task seriously. But if the person comes up with something that sounds thoughtful and plausible, then it becomes difficult to know whether or not they’re correct. Of course, I could insist I redo the work they’ve already done where they investigated and worked on discovering the problem, but there’s a point where you have to trust the process they’ve taken.

However, if the person hasn’t done any of that due diligence at the point they tell me their problem, it’s probably unlikely that they wanted to do that, in the first place.

In the end, the tools only work if they address the specific issue that is related to the true problem. Otherwise, they’re just a way to waste more money. But they’re so easy to buy that it seems easier to buy a bunch of new tools than to spend time on the true issues.

Gloria Metrick
GeoMetrick Enterprises
http://www.GeoMetrick.com/

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Phil permalink
    November 6, 2015 9:02 am

    Couldn’t agree more with this, Gloria. I’ve never forgotten what one of my early mentors told me about this: “A fool with a tool is still a fool.”
    As IT manager, my internal customers ask me to implement a solution, without defining the problem, which often leads to unmet expectations. Sometimes I ask them if they tell their doctors what the treatment should be. Not that we’re doctors, but bypassing the diagnosis is something no competent physician would allow.
    Thanks.

  2. November 6, 2015 10:44 am

    Sadly, I think we do see drug commercials and insist we need specific drugs when we visit the doctor.

    I love the “fool with a tool…” saying, by the way!

  3. November 6, 2015 8:26 pm

    Agree completely and love that saying from other comment.

    However tools are absolutely essential when in the right hands. A welding tool in my hands will mean a house is burnt down. A soldering iron means some new and interesting IoT devices for the lab will be collecting data for our LIMS. I love tools and the experts that weild them. For me, tools are central.

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