The Root of the Problem

By: Nickie Harber-Frankart

Earlier this week, my husband and I experienced our first real joy of home ownership. It was a typical Sunday (a.k.a. Chore Day)—and the washing machine was working overtime. I went downstairs to switch loads and to my surprise, found a large pool of water.

At first, I just stood there in disbelief. Then, I yelled for my husband, “Honey, we have a problem!”

After a brief investigation, we learned the water was coming from the basement floor drain—probably clogged with lint, or so we thought.

The next day, I called a plumber—Cory.  When Cory arrived, he surveyed the situation and came up with three possible problems. As he spoke, scenes from the movie Money Pit raced through my mind. Each scenario was progressively worse and more expensive than the last. He suggested using a snake and camera to find a more definitive cause to the problem.

A quick $200 later, Rusty the camera specialist pulled up to the house in his white Econoline van. He was carrying what looked like a mini flashlight attached to a giant spool of cable. Soon, Cory and Rusty were fishing the camera into the sewer line.

We anxiously watched the monitor and finally at the 60-foot marker, the ‘root’ of our problem revealed itself.  There, in its full glory on the screen, was a large mass of tree roots in the City’s sewer line.

With a definitive diagnosis, we are now on our way to resolving the problem.

The reason I tell you this story is because it reminds me so much of the conversations I have with others about my work as a business consultant. Moreover, it echoes some of the themes from a previous blog post. These are:

  • It’s OK to rely on the expertise of a professional. How many of us are plumbing experts? Sure, my husband and I could have tried some home remedies like Drano, but in this case, it wouldn’t have worked and the situation would’ve just gotten worse. Relying on a professional to help your organization is no different than relying on a professional in your personal life.
  • Sometimes the problem isn’t always obvious. Some problems require an investigation (like the plumbers using the camera to find the problem), but not all problems are as obvious as a giant root mass staring back at you on a screen. Consulting is a process. It starts with a diagnosis, followed by a treatment, and sometimes followed with another diagnosis and more treatment—just like visits to a doctor.
  • Rely on data rather than making assumptions. Would you tear up your basement floor or driveway to fix a plumbing problem without evidence telling you where to start? A little bit of research can go a long way. Not only can it help you understand the situation, but also point you in the right direction. The best benefit: data helps back up your claim. Using the video footage, my husband and I have approached the City to help resolve our problem.
  • Pay now or pay later.  Sometimes we have problems that lead to unplanned costs or the use of dollars allocated for something else. I would have rather bought a new iPhone 5 than spend $200 to scope sewer pipes, but sometimes you have to do what you have to do, which brings me to my next point…
  • Seize the opportunity. If you are going to pay for it, you might as well get the most out of it. Each discovery brings opportunity. In this case, my husband and I learned a lot about the condition of the pipes in our 1928 home. This will help us make better decisions for future home improvements—just as OrangeBoy’s consulting services apply across multiple business functions.
  • You get what you pay for. When I searched online for a plumber, I didn’t look for the least expensive, I looked for the best. That is, I searched for those with the best reviews and most satisfied customers. Sure, it might cost more, but I want it done right the first time. Turns out, I was very satisfied with my experience.
  • We all have problems. Whether we like to admit this or not, at some point in time, you’ll have to hire a professional. It just happens.

©OrangeBoy, Inc. 2012

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