Why The Technical Staff Doesn’t Respond To Your Requests

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We’ve all been there in one time or another. We ask for something important and either we don’t get it or we get it way too late.

Why do they do that? Is it because they are inconsiderate jerks who just don’t get it? Maybe.

But maybe there are other, more plausible, reasons. Let’s look at one possible scenario.

They’d Rather Swim in Razorblades Than Do What You Asked Them To Do

I probably get more enjoyment out of writing proposals than most people in this world. For those other people, it’s right up there with eating live kittens (not something someone in their right mind would really do unless they absolutely had to).

So, you are wondering why they haven’t eaten that kitten yet. I mean, they were supposed to eat it last Thursday and now it’s Tuesday. It’s not like that kitten is gonna eat itself. So, what are they waiting for? Don’t they realize you are on a deadline?

And plus, they should know how to eat kittens by now. They’ve been in this business for 20 years.

Unfortunately, no matter how many kittens you wrestle into your mouth, chew up, and swallow…it never gets enjoyable. It’s never fun.

cute-kitten-sleeping-131210

They know that kitten is on their desk (probably playing with a ball of yarn). But if they ignore it, maybe it will find its way out of the building. Heck, they’ll even do billable work (yes, the work they wish someday to escape) just to avoid devouring that kitten.

The Truly Horrible, Yet Effective, Solution

So, how do you get them to eat the kitten? You are not going to like the answer, but it works. You eat the head yourself. Yes, I said that.

We all know the hardest part of any kitten to eat is its head. If you eat the head for them, it will be much easier for that technical staff member to gobble down the rest.

That’s why I started drafting technical approaches. Yeah, it sucks. But it is much easier for them to correct my draft (and tell me how much of an idiot I am) than to start from a blank screen.

It’s much easier to record one of their presentations and have it transcribed than ask them to write a blog post.

I like to call this “giving them a head start.” Now you know where that phrase came from. 🙂

In a perfect world, everybody would “do their job.” Everyone would “get it.” Everyone would “give a sh*t.”

But keep in mind, in a perfect world, you would never send someone an email asking them to eat a kitten. Yet, that’s what you do.

Key Takeaway: If you want someone to do something they hate doing, give them a head start by doing the hardest part for them.

P.S. Before you send that hate mail, realize I have not eaten any animal, let alone a kitten, in over 20 years. I’m one of those wackos who can’t see the obvious difference between a kitten and a calf or piglet. :p

Comments

  1. Meow!

  2. Disturbing analogy! But true. 🙂

    I do this frequently. That’s why they love me.

  3. Yes, indeed. Just do it.

  4. “Giving them a head start” — I always wondered where that phrase came from. Thanks so much for filling that knowledge gap for me. By the way, does it make me a terrible person that I laughed out loud while reading this? Twice?

    • Matt Handal says

      No, I don’t think it makes you a terrible person. If it made you hungry…that would be an indication you might be a terrible person.

      Either way, at HEE we help…we do not judge! 🙂

  5. Jane Gertler says

    Caught and held my attention, Matt, well done!

  6. Matt,

    Although your analogy was a little alarming at first, there is soo much truth to this article. I’ve had the same experience – it’s the only way to get things done!

  7. Then I’m a bad person. It made me hungry, for more work at least. Nice job Matt.

  8. Dana Galvin Lancour says

    Matt – I just had the opportunity to read this and it is awesome! What a great analogy – slightly disturbing at times – but really drove the point home!

    Thanks for all that you do and take the time to write about!

    Dana

  9. Matt – GREAT JOB! I started that same process about 6 years ago and it definitely works – they bristle at the thought of a blank page, so if I give them MY take on it (which is almost guaranteed to be wrong), they can hack away, feel good about themselves, and expound on their expertise. Works like a charm – great article and LOVE the ‘head’ start on the kittens – perfect! (What is NOT perfect however, if your consistent spelling of ‘thier’ which basically does not exist in the dictionary ;->). Keep up the great work!

    • Matt Handal says

      Urrg! I really thought my use of PhraseExpress and TextExpander snippets had eliminated that ugly “thier” habit. I didn’t think to put a keyboard shortcut in my iPhone settings to combat this.

      Thank you for letting me know!

  10. Karman Cates says

    As someone who also doesn’t eat real faces, I read your post with my hands over my face, peaking through my fingers, but also giggling. I think your vivid imagery will help me remember this universal truth in the beginning of the proposal process instead of waiting for the missed deadline to provide the headless corpse. Cute kitten pictures drive it home!

  11. Cindy Olsen says

    This is by far the best way I have ever been able to get someone to send me information that I desperately need. That, along with the “if I don’t hear from you by 4 p.m., this is the response that will be included in the proposal,” comment really helps them understand that it’s now or never!

  12. Lynda Richards-Stocks says

    Thank you Matt! Hilarious and brilliant. I love kittens – they are soooo….. delicious! Disturbing analagy – yes. Great point – yes. Need a pay raise if I am to now start writing technical approaches – yes! I can’t help thinking that this is a very slippery slope. I do agree with and implement this general approach for many things as I belive a big part of my job is to assist my PMs to be as billable as possible. Giving people something to respond to rather than create is a great way to get what you want more quickly. However, to extend it to writing the technical approach could push me over the edge!

  13. Yeah…TOTALLY disturbing analogy…but effective. I have done this my entire career (drafted technical approaches, NOT eat kittens) and every single time…it has helped! I start out by telling them that I understand they’ve got other stuff to do (billable work, putting out client fires, etc.)…”so let me take a stab at the approach and then you can edit from there.” They’re ALWAYS willing to do that…and I get what I need on time. It’s a win-win!

  14. Good advice. I do often “take a stab” at the technical portions. I still seem to be left feeling underwhelmed with the level of support in crafting an overall winning approach. From my perspective, I see a lot of effort in loading up the calendar with opportunities/RFPs but then no one really leaning in to help win. I’m trying to overcome that.

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