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I Need Help, Not a Bunch of Acronyms!!!

by Kevin G. on September 2, 2014

OK, let’s lay the groundwork for this blog. I am an engineer. I work for a company that has an engineering division, a surveying division, and a technology division. I work every day with professional land surveyors (PLS’s), professional engineers (PE’s), GIS professionals (GISP’s). You can already see by the titles alone of the people I work with, acronyms are a part of the business.  All too often, we fall into the trap of talking our own little “geek” code that sometimes causes more confusion than anything else to our clients.  However, this not only affects us technical folks, it also effects the non-technical people whom are trying to learn how to get up, but don’t know how to ask.
 
We all too often spend too much time explaining the finer nuances of our acronyms to our clients, our co-workers, heck, even to our spouses because we want to display our knowledge and our ability to help them with their problems. The old adage, “They don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care”, applies to all of us. When I bought my wife a Garmin GPS for Christmas, she didn’t know or care what GPS stood for, she didn’t know or care how the GPS triangulated her location using satellites; she simply wanted to know how to keep from getting lost.  I am proud to report, 2 years into her foray into Global Positioning System (GPS) experience, she still doesn’t know or care what GPS stands for, or how it works, but she doesn’t get lost any more and that solved her problem.
 
Well, that’s all fine and good, but what does that mean for you reading this blog? It could mean two different things depending on how technical you are.  Being that I am a tech geek, let’s start with why I am writing this blog for the technically minded. Whether we are providing solutions for our clients, our co-workers, or even our family members, we have to remember one very important thing. We are providing solutions, not knowledge. So, when a client says “My community needs GPS or GIS or ISP or something so that we can map our entire infrastructure, and I want to see it from the sky or the cloud thingy”, ask yourself what are they really needed? Better yet, ask them what they are trying to accomplish. In this case, maybe they need to get their infrastructure mapping from paper to a digital format that is accessible via the internet for all their staff members. Then ask them if you understand their needs without using acronyms!
 
What if you are reading this and you aren’t technically minded? The mistake we often see our clients make is they invest a tremendous amount of time researching technology on the internet and talking to other communities, co-workers, etc. asking how they solve their problems. That is OK, but remember, the internet article you are using for research may be years old or apply to someone who has an entirely different situation than you.

So while it is OK to do your due diligence, finding the best solution and ultimately finding the help you need is actually easier than you think. Simply explain what your problem is, then ask for help without trying to recommend solutions.  Explain that you have old paper maps that are outdated and are questionable as to their accuracy. Explain that you would like to have the information verified as to its accuracy and would like a process for updating the information and having the public view it.

See, wasn’t that simple? That helps us more than anything else, because when you start throwing around acronyms, we go into full-blown geek mode and want to demonstrate our knowledge instead of helping you find a solution to your unique problem.
 
In summary, whether you are technical or not, throw the use of those fancy acronyms out the window.  Explain the solutions you can provide in plain English. Or, if you need help, ask for help in plain English. Just remember, you need to make this change ASAP.....sorry, couldn’t resist.....
 
Tagged Esri, GIS, GISP, GPS, iOS, LiDAR, PE, PLS