My mechanic, Diony, recommended I change the power steering fluid of my car. I use automatic transmission fluid (ATF) for the power steering because another mechanic said it was okay. But when Diony checked my car the other day, he said I shouldn’t use ATF for power steering. ATF is for automatic transmissions; power steering fluid is what’s needed for power steering. Duh!
I have trusted previous mechanics for their opinions and recommendations. I trust Diony when he fixes my car. But if Diony says the ones before him were wrong with the power steering fluid, how do I know if he is right versus the ones before him?
When we consult mechanics, plumbers, and technicians to fix issues with our cars, appliances, and equipment, we do so on the assumption they are the most qualified for the jobs. We’d rely on their credentials and build our confidence from our experiences with them.
Managers of enterprises engage contractors often by bidding the jobs to candidates. Bidding, however, skews more towards price than to value. Bidding also is typically based on a pre-defined scope of work, also known as the terms of reference (ToR), which practically defines a solution for a problem even if one isn’t found yet.
It makes sense to bid out work when a solution is known. But it won’t be if we don’t have an idea what we need to do. More often than not, we seek expert help to solve problems in which we have no outright answer.
We don’t do a bidding process when we consult medical doctors. We first find one we can trust to give us a diagnosis. When the doctor recommends a treatment, we then find what we would believe would provide the best value even if the doctor may already recommend a provider for the treatment. If we’re not comfortable with the diagnosis and recommended treatment, we’d get a second opinion. We would only look at our treatment options once we agree with the diagnosis which we believe is the right one.
The same logic applies when we manage our assets. We would first get an engineer or technician to assess our assets and we only would bid jobs only when we are confident that we have found the best solution.
Some managers short-cut jobs by bucking this logic. Managers would ask contractors to bid for jobs with vague terms of references. Technicians would repair machines that end up more broken than fixed. Engineers would bill additional costs because managers would make last-minute changes to scopes of work that weren’t very clear in the first place. Worst of all, managers would hire contractors who weren’t really qualified, offered wrong solutions, or just did the work wrong.
When they go against common sense, enterprises end up paying more what they should due to shoddy work that was done for a solution to a problem that wasn’t well-defined.
My mechanic, Diony, has a good track record of successful maintenance jobs so I can trust him for his diagnosis and good work. And it does make sense in the first place to use power-steering fluid for the power-steering system than to use any other fluid (duh!).
For enterprises who are seeking experts, it’s always best to check the credentials, ask for referrals, and interview them. Getting experts on board that are trustworthy over the long run to consult with will benefit the enterprise. It’s just plain sensible that we need experts to assist in assessing the issues, defining the problems, and finding the best solutions. Bidding becomes straightforward as scopes of work become clear.
Every enterprise would do well to have experts to consult with to help diagnose problems and recommend solutions. Over time, the experts and the enterprise would build track records of trust that would reap mutual benefits for both parties.