A good friend of mine called to have a chat on his recent problem.
He has been leading a team to investigate complaint cases concerning unwanted loud noise in the neighbourhood, usually from pubs, bars and so on. His job routine includes paying a visit to the premises where the person who complains lives, making attempts to listen what the complainant hears and writing his observation and what he hears in a report.
The interesting part came in when he acknowledged that while he may always be able to hear “something”, he was not sure what he put in the report corresponded to what he actually heard. He was wondering if he needed to train himself up with some music knowledge. He figured a music teacher would help and was asking me to refer him to one.
Having understood his situation, I was not that optimistic about his plan of hiring a music teacher and told him what I thought. I started with the fact that one can make good use of online resources when it comes to learning music theories. For example, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Music_theory would be of some good use. Undoubtedly to put what he heard into words intelligible to laymen required much more than knowing music theories. I suggested him to engage a professional to develop a music taxonomy or some forms of structured music knowledge that is suitable for Hong Kong and provide training to streamline their daily work. He was glad to take my advice and started to explore in this direction.
This story is a good lesson to be learnt: as a trusted advisor, you have to really understand the client’s real problem. Sometimes their thoughts and ideas may be a good starting point for you to delve in. Yet the other times the slight idea they are having may guide you off. That is why it is crucial to figure out what your client really needs. And worrying whether you are following the client’s ideas should not worry you. After all, your job is to devise real advice that can solve their problems instead of following their thoughts.