A simple, but a tricky question.
This straightforward question caught me by surprise. I always knew my kids were interested in my work; why I arrive late from work or about the reason daddy opens his laptop after they have gone to sleep (they caught me more than once…), but when my 8-years old kid asked me this direct question I hesitated for a moment to organize my thoughts what should be the best way to respond so he can grasp.
So, I decided to describe my role in general and then tune my answer based on the audience’s response.
“I’m a technical manager, and practically it means that I’m responsible for the technical aspects of a project and ensure it is delivered successfully, which means different components can talk with each other. My work involves meetings with various stakeholders. Stakeholders, you know. Someone who has an interest in the project and affects it or being affected by its outcomes. No, it’s not lunchtime when you hold a stake.. ”. In fact, I contemplated, it is similar to lunch when most of the time the stake is you.
At this point, my audience seemed disengaged. However, I wasn’t about to give up. I didn’t want to leave the question hanged in the air; I should be a role model to my kids, so if something doesn’t go well, then it’s time for another try. Try, learn, fix and retry. That’s all about agile, isn’t it?
“Well son, it seems like I didn’t articulate it properly. Articulate? It practically means explained. Yes, there is more than one word to say the same thing. Anyway, let’s focus on the original question.”
I had to bounce back quickly.
“Daddy goes to work, meets people and makes decisions. What about? Well, I’m glad you asked. The project, I mean the thing the customer requested, has many aspects. Someone should coordinate and make sure things work. Technically speaking, since other areas need to be handled”.
At this point, I didn’t even convince myself it has been coherent enough to understand what the h**l am I doing at work 🙄 .
In the last resort, I just said: “daddy is a problem solver”. “What?” my kid responded. I was pleased to catch his attention. I continued on the wave of success. “Yes, I’m a problem solver!” and a problem creator, I mumbled to myself.
“I help my friends at work to solve difficult questions and situations we face. In some cases, I consult with others and ask them what they think should be done; in others, I advise them. This is the process of decision making until there is a solution”.
“Wow, a problem solver” my kids rehearsed. “Are you a good problem solver?” he curiously asked. “Yes, I think I am. Sometimes it’s not easy to find a solution. The challenge is to find the right path; you try, fail, think about how to improve and then try again”. Now I was really proud of myself.
“What kind of problems do you solve?” my kid was intrigued. That was great. We have a dialogue, and my audience is captivated. Now I have to respond with the right answer. “Well, mmm, sometimes I need to plan something, like a map, for example. So I draw diagrams and present them to my colleagues. Some problems involve mathematics formulas to calculate the fastest ways. In other cases, I make plans, like your weekly timetable at school”.
My kid was fascinated. Then I knew my goal was achieved. Gling! Or, in other words, another problem was solved.
“Daddy, one last thing. If you are a good problem solver, as you say, can you solve my homework? I need to draw a house and measure its area and perimeter. You can add this into your timetable…”
Well, I thought to myself, one problem is solved, but another problem was born.
Hope you enjoyed reading it, problem solvers, wherever you are!