Thursday, August 02, 2007

The Difference

A retired engineer was once asked to fix a problem at his former company. The machinery wasn't working and being the expert on it, was recalled to help solve the problem.

He quoted a consultancy price of $50,000.

When he arrived at the factory floor, he listened carefully to the humming of the machine, then took out a piece of chalk and marked an 'X' at one spot. "This is where your problem lies."

The factory engineers duly opened the machine and examined the mechanism where the retired engineer pointed out. And quite correctly, the machine functioned after being fixed.

The managers were however, a bit miffed for paying $50,000 for just a chalk mark and asked the retired engineer to give a detailed breakdown. His invoice was as follows:

1. Chalk mark $ 1
2. Service from years of experience $ 49,999
TOTAL $ 50,000

The lesson learnt is that value doesn't just come from tangible goods or service but from the intangible as well.

Another lesson is that you must always quote a price BEFORE you give consultation.

Which reminds me of another story:

The difference between the runner in a 100m race may only be 0.01s. But the prize money can be as different as $100,000 and $50,000

100% increase in value for only a 0.1% difference in output.

One lesson I think is that we shouldn't try to go for doubling our output to double our pay. We can't. I can't double my pay by doubling my lines of code per day. In fact the number of lines of code I create a day remains constant. It is the quality of code and the years of experience behind it that is important. There is a limit to the number of hours a day we have.

It is increasing our decision making abilities so that making right decisions more often is increased, and thereby our added value increases.

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