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Why technical specialists have a tough time moving to higher value work

Consultant Wayne McKinnon writes:

1. In school, technical specialists are taught that there is one best answer, not degrees of better. Buyers like options, and technical people are often too focused on the theoretical “right way” versus achieving objectives to varying degrees.

2. One-upmanship is part of the culture. As a result, business meetings often turn into demonstrations of superior knowledge rather than determining the buyer’s needs. Unless this is corrected early, many buyers will simply stop taking calls.

3. The technical worker learns the importance of task rather than outcomes. Unlike their business counterparts, who have an opportunity to see how outcomes provide value to the business and its customers, the technical specialist is shielded from that view and often has no idea what the business units do or what their world looks like unless they explore the world outside.

4. There is little opportunity or reason to learn basic business skills. When moving up the value chain, the technical specialist not only has to learn how to converse in business terms, but also must gain an education in the tools of the business trade. The technical consultant faces double the challenge compared to that of the business consultant.

5. While attempting to make the transition, the technical specialist can easily feel stuck between the old world that they left, and the new world that they have net yet fully entered. Fear can cause retreat back to their technical comfort zone.

So what is the technical consultant to do in order to make a successful transition away from the labor-intensive project work with the ongoing requirement to learn new technologies?

Read the rest of Wayne’s post for his suggestions.

By Josh Richards

Josh is a consulting network/ systems/ cloud engineer, freelance high stakes IT project manager, and former technology executive. He has consulted on information technology matters for over twenty-five years. In 2006, consulting became his primary source of income (just before the global financial crisis!). He’s a big fan of craft beer, freshly roasted coffee, artistic burlesque, good food, and applying science and reason to problems and opportunities small and large (and just for fun). When he has time and energy he also likes to get out on his bike or attend a soccer match.