I once worked with a sales guy called Nino. Nino was a gregarious, outgoing “people person” that could strike up a conversation with anyone. He had a friendly, easygoing charm that helped him connect with others and build relationships. But he didn’t have a head for detail, especially technical detail. His solution was to trust other people’s brains rather than his own.
I can’t count the number of times he’d reach out to me to ask the very same question. No matter how many times I answered it, no matter how I tried to come up with ways to make the answer stick, I’d find myself fielding calls from him on the same issues over and over.
At one point, I created The Nino File, where I wrote down all the answers to the common questions he asked so I could simply cut and paste the answers into my email. On a few occasions, I sent him the file itself, so he would have a cheat sheet for easy reference.
No luck. It simply wasn’t his style. He’d rather make the call.
I tell this story because most of us aren’t like Nino. We don’t reach out to others first. Perhaps we feel shy or embarrassed. Perhaps we fear looking silly or misinformed. Or perhaps it’s out of consideration for our coworkers, who have their own jobs to do. Whatever the reason, our instincts prompt us to search our own brains, our own desks, our own computers, before we look to others for help.
Though communication, sharing and collaboration tools are hot topics in today’s businesses, it’s important to remember that most of us don’t start there. We look to ourselves first and then cast the net wider and wider as week seek information.
And that’s probably how it should be.