On Assumption

Friday morning, I woke up with a horrendous cold. My throat was sore, my sinuses were stuffy, my ears hurt, and my nose couldn’t find the “off” valve on the snot spigot. (Hope you weren’t eating…) I couldn’t sleep, and my brain was as stuffy as my sinuses. I decided to stay home, since I was non-functional and felt pretty crappy.

Mid-morning, I had to troubleshoot a minor (but extremely annoying) issue that some of the users were having. I felt like it was a Sisyphean task with my stuffy brain, but got it done. The next issue, however, I could not in any way solve, and I had to leave that to my extremely capable staff.

Obviously, I found it frustrating that I wasn’t operating at 100%. I knew that I had disappointed people, who were hoping that I had some insight to add to the technical challenge.

After my nap, I realized that I tend to assume that my geeks will always be operating at 100%, and so do our customers (the infamous “users”). And this is a fundamental fallacy that many leaders tend to follow, because not everyone can be 100% all the time. In fact, in today’s stressful world, it is probably rare to find someone at 100% any part of the time.

I haven’t yet figured out a way to communicate this to the users (“Please be patient–we’re human and trying our best, but we can only do so much” doesn’t play well), but I can certainly keep it in mind while leading my geeks.