In medicine, prescription without diagnosis is malpractice.  That clearly makes sense and I am hopeful that most doctors follow that sequence.  However, why does it seem that other professions don’t follow the same maxim?

Like most guys, I love electronics.  To me, technology is fun and exciting and it can be like a puzzle.  If you’re trying to connect things that are unrelated, it is a puzzle that can be solved if you have the right materials and understand the problem.  The solution for many of my electronic compatibility issues is, of course: Radio Shack!

Whenever I need a connector cable that is unusual, I’m reasonably confident that I can find what I need at the Shack.  Shortly after buying a new phone, I went to procure a needed cable and asked the sales attendant for some assistance in finding the cable.  He responds by asking me if I want to buy a Blackberry Bold and proceeded to tell me how great it was.  All I was interested in was getting a cable but that wasn’t the conversation that he wanted to have.  Soon, I pulled out my own Blackberry Bold and told him that I already had one and that all I needed today was a cable.

I certainly don’t mind upsells such as the classic, “Do you want fries with that?” but the problem I had was that there was no relationship and more importantly diagnosis.  Had he taken the time to assess my situation, perhaps we could have determined that what I really needed was a new stereo receiver, instead of a cable.  But the damage was done and I was clear, 30 seconds into the conversation that all I was going to buy was the cable.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve met some great salespeople at Radio Shack who get in there, figure out what you’re trying to do, understand the problems your having, and then help you come up with the solution.  And that’s what being a good salesperson, a good manager, and a good leader is all about.  Helping people get clear about the objective, the obstacles, and the solution.

In whatever capacity you are in, make sure that you always diagnose, then prescribe.

John Ryan

Host of Key Conversations for Leaders Podcast, Executive Coach, Consultant, and Trainer

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