Knowing Where to Tap

Just got sent this little story by email and thought that it was cool:

Once a giant ship engine failed. The ship’s owners tried one expert after another, but none of them could figure out how to fix the engine. Then they brought in an old man who had been fixing ships since he was a youngster. He carried a large bag of tools with him, and when he arrived, he immediately went to work. He inspected the engine very carefully, top to bottom. Two of the ship’s owners were there, watching this man, hoping he would know what to do. After looking things over, the old man reached into his bag and pulled out a small hammer. He gently tapped something. Instantly, the engine lurched into life. He carefully put his hammer away. The engine was fixed!

A week later, the owners received a bill from the old man for ten thousand dollars.”What?!” the owners exclaimed. “He hardly did anything!” So they wrote the old man a note saying, “Please send us an itemized bill.”The man sent a bill that read,

Tapping with a hammer……………………………..$2
Knowing where to tap…………………………..$9998


I can empathise with this as I used to do a lot of IT consultancy. Sometimes I got the impression that some people probably thought “Christ he charged a lot for that hour” but then they had been flailing around trying to fix some problem themselves for hours/days and asking the neighbour’s kid in to fix it, and asking their mates in the pub etc to no avail. In fact, in the end I just focused on business as, when time becomes money, they just hire in people that get the job done so that they can focus on their strengths instead.

It’s the same reason that I don’t bother to do pumbing, woodwork, decorating and car maintenence myself. I could spend ages doing a crap job or hire an expert. My time is better off spent earning money at what I’m good at. Sure it could be “fun” to improve my skills in those areas, but there are other areas I’d rather focus on first.

Also I heard someone on an interesting marketing teleseminar say recently [paraphrased] “If you spend all your time improving your weaknesses, all you are left with at the end is a whole bunch of strong weaknesses!”. This is a pretty good point. Actually, I am into improving some of my weaknesses – those that are worthwhile improving; but really it’s better to capitalise on your strengths and to delegate tasks to people who are better than you in your weak areas. That’s what I think anyway :-)

One Response to “Knowing Where to Tap”

  1. GameProducer.Net » Carnival of Game Production - Third Edition Says:

    [...] Birkett sent me several articles. My personal favourite was Knowing where to tap. A great story, and a good reminder that in the information age – the information is [...]