March 8, 2019

Threading the needle (one more time)

Sent by Jonathan Stark on March 10th, 2019

Longtime reader and friend of the list Anthony English sent in a reply to my message “Threading the needle” from the other day (shared with permission):

A couple of years ago, I had to migrate some data for a company that supplied a service to one of Australia’s biggest mobile companies. The data transfer test run by the customer took over 40 hours, which would have meant the customers stores across the country would go two straight days without trading. When the customer first told me the estimated migration time was over 40 hours, I asked with a poker face: “would that sort of downtime have an impact on the stores around the country?” I found a better way, and did a test run, which was done in 1 minute 58 seconds. By the way, I got the client to press the start and stop button on the stopwatch app, just for dramatic effect. Just before I did my magic, he was trying to work out a way to cut the data transfer down to 20 hours, if at all possible. I told the client: “that’s why I don’t charge an hourly rate.”

Thanks for sharing, AE! Great example of delivering valuable results using your brains instead of your hands.

Moral of the story:

If you bill by the hour, you’re almost certainly biased toward doing “hands work” instead of the much easier and more profitable “brains work”.