Keeping things simple
It’s hard to keep things simple. The older we grow, the more complicated things seem to be.
I think back to my childhood, things were simple. You slept, you ate, you did math and science and you played piano. But now things seem a bit more complicated. The complications of my life are almost entirely my fault and over the last 2 years, I’ve gone from being employed to not, from being a engineer to an engineer with a MBA and now the owner of a small business.
My engineering degree is in Geomatics Engineering. When I tell people this, I usually get a blank look, a few seconds will pass and they sense that the silence is uncomfortable and begin associating the word “Geo” with anything that comes to mind. Things like geologists, geophysicists, geography and my favourite, “Geometrics”.
If you were to look up the definition of Geomatics Engineering, you’d find a hit from Wikipedia that gives you a succinct definition that outlines pretty much what my engineering is all about. I get it, my fellow engineers would get it but anybody who isn’t a Geomatics professional wouldn’t.
Now, in my career, I’ve been given several changes to sell “Geomatics” and I’ve never really succeeded in doing so. Mostly because I started each spiel with a really complex definition. From what I’ve observed, done and thought about, complexity is a way for us to create a sense of value. We seem to have this belief that if something is complex, it must create value of some sort. In general, the more complex something is, the more money we have to pay to get it. But in my case, increasing the complexity in what I do does the exact opposite. The honest truth about Geomatics Engineering is that:
“I put dots on maps”
Now, the math and science behind the dot and map is very complex but the value to the customer doesn’t come from the math and the science, it comes from seeing the dot on the map. But because the customer doesn’t know about the complexity behind the dot on the map (and really, why should they care?), explaining to them in a manner that tries to make that dot on a map mean anything more is misleading.
In the last couple of years, I’ve come to realize that what I do, what ASD does as a company may be complex and could be described using fancy words but more value and a better relationship with my clients can be created by keeping things simple. However, simplicity means that I can’t hide behind fancy words, that I need to truly understand the value that I am providing.