Thursday, December 21, 2017

Accepting help from experts and offering help as an expert

By Steve Endow

I've recently had two situations where someone asked for help with Dynamics GP, and when I provided guidance, the requester indicated that my suggestions were not relevant.  Without considering my suggestions or trying them, the requester immediately ruled them out.

They were simple suggestions, such as "please try making this change and perform the process again to see if that resolves the error", or "have you traced your source data to verify that it isn't the cause of the incorrect transaction that was imported?".

"That can't be the cause." was one response.

"My custom stored procedure that imports data into GP verifies everything, so I know it worked properly." was another response.

Another common response I receive when troubleshooting issues is, "We've already checked that and it's not the cause of the problem."

I don't consider myself an "expert" at anything, but there are some topics where I've done enough work to have a certain level of knowledge, intuition, and skills such that I'm generally able to narrow down causes to problems, and typically know some good places to start looking for causes.  I have enough successes solving problems in certain areas that it seems like my approach generally works.

When someone asks for help and then immediately dismisses my initial recommendations without even trying them, how can I help them?  Maybe they don't know who I am or what experience I have, and they're skeptical of my suggestions.  What can I do then?

Do I gently explain that I've worked with over 400 customers in this specific domain, and that my anecdotal statistics would not support the assertion that their integration is infallible or that Dynamics GP is at fault?  Is it my job to convince them that I tend to have a fairly good grasp of the subject matter and that they should reconsider my suggestion?  Is there any point in arguing with someone who has asked for help, but isn't accepting my help?

"Experts" don't know everything and can't always immediately pinpoint causes or solutions.  But if they ask questions, ask for more information, or ask you to test something, isn't it in your best interest to at least try working with them?  If you're not willing to work with an expert, what are your alternatives?

Instead of immediately ruling out suggestions, welcome them as opportunities to learn. Collect new data. Make new assessments. Understand what they are thinking.

Be inquisitive and curious and humble. Don't be defensive or righteous. This applies to the person asking for help, as well as the expert being asked.

Steve Endow is a Microsoft MVP in Los Angeles.  He is the owner of Precipio Services, which provides Dynamics GP integrations, customizations, and automation solutions.

You can also find him on Twitter, YouTube, and Google+

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