Knowledge Gap

Overheard a comment by @dflood yesterday that I’ll blatantly steal and post about here:

“…either 1. there is a technical resolution to the problem or 2. there is a knowledge gap…”

I’d have to say that this is a rather succinct description of something that happens all the time to us IT folk, where the client wants to do activity A but they can’t, what-ever it is it just doesn’t work and activity A can’t be completed.

The causes vary, but they do fall into one of these two categories:

  • There is a technical resolution to the problem, where there is something broken, not working that needs to be fixed.
  • There is a knowledge gap, where the client doesn’t know how to do the task at hand.

Dealing with the first is what most engineers/technicians jump to and find a way to make it work, only to discover that the client still isn’t happy, they still can’t do what they want to do. Because the engineer automatically assumed that they know what the client is saying, automatically assumed that the fix is to correct some technical issue. Yet often, if we really listen to the client, what we find is that there is a gap in their knowledge and simply by educating the client, helping the client become a power user the problem evaporates and becomes a non-issue.

I’ve trapped myself before by making the wrong assumption, have you?

Written on June 30, 2011