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Archive for October, 2012

Where Do You Hit the Pipe?

One evening the power plant in a small New England town began to malfunction. The local engineer was at a loss. The decision was made to send for the retired engineer who had overseen the installation. The engineer walked in the plant, looked around for a few minutes, went over to a pipe and hit the pipe with a hammer.

Immediately, the power in the town was restored.

At the end of the month, the Town Manager received a bill for $1,000.02.

The two cents was the fee for hitting the pipe.

The $1,000 charge was for knowing exactly where to hit the pipe.

Why “knowing where to hit the pipe” is so expensive.

The engineer had a special knowledge of the power plant. This enabled him to solve a complex problem in a very short amount of time. Because he was able to restore the power to the town so quickly, he put a premium on his services.

He recognized the impact of his contribution and communicated his expectation to be compensated accordingly.

On the surface, $1,000 for simply hitting a pipe may appear to be outrageous.

Let’s assume he had taken two days to solve the problem.

The $1,000 fee might have seemed more reasonable, but how much would the outage really have cost the community?

Factor in lost time at work—no lights, no computers, no printers—how much work would be accomplished?

Food rotting in refrigerators, events cancelled—what would have been the real cost to the town?

It would certainly have exceeded $1,000.

Identifying the pipe.

There are four issues all organizations need addressed. They need problems solved (problems being temporary) and needs met (needs being ongoing). They also want to know ways they can make money and save money.

If you have one of these skills, someone will need your talents. If you possess more than one of these skills, you’ll probably be able to “hit the pipe.”

The retired engineer both solved a problem and saved the town money.

The other important variable he brought to the equation was speed.

Not only was he able to solve the problem that ultimately saved the town money, he was able to do so very quickly.

He brought knowledge and speed to the table.

Where do you “hit the pipe?”

Areas where you “hit the pipe” are areas where you have reached an unusual level of mastery.

Uncovering these areas can sometimes take a little detective work.

On some level, we are all “blind to our own excellence.”

None of us can fully appreciate our own abilities.

For this reason, we may undervalue our greatest assets.

There are clues that can lead you to your most valuable skills and knowledge.

Start with skills and knowledge you have used for a very long time.

If you have reached the point where there is no course you could take to learn what you know but you could teach a course in what you know, you have reached mastery.

Mastery is also reached when you have worked in one environment for a long time and have a special understanding of that environment.

(The retired engineer certainly had an unusual knowledge of the pipes in the power plant.)

There are two other important points to consider when determining where your most valuable talents lie.

The first is simply supply and demand. If you possess an expertise that is rare, the price for your services should go up.

The second variable is speed. Often less is more. The less time it takes to solve the problem, the greater the value will be.

It may be time to take inventory of those special abilities.

Those that come easily.

Those that are unusual.

Those you can perform with ease and with speed.

You never know where the next pipe might be.

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CTS Consulting, Inc

3126 Berkshire Road

Baltimore, Maryland 21214

phone 410-444-5857

cell 443-286-2488