Wednesday, February 8, 2017

A Tattoo, Root Canal and Locs: Why Experience Matters Versus Change For Change Sake

Over the last 4 months, I've had 3 incredible experiences with top notch professionals - giants in their space. Each time, I was moved to write about those experiences and never got around to doing it and today I know why. In the aftermath of the confirmation of Betsy DeVos as the next Secretary of Education, it is clear why I could not write this post one day sooner.

Know how

Experience matters.

I got a tattoo, had a root canal and converted my afro to locs since September 2016. Each endeavor required research and identification of a professional to journey with me to my goal. Each professional had to walk me through their process and how they were the right person for the job. I had to look at their "track record" and draw conclusions from their past performance.

My tattoo artist - King Ruck, founder of Black Spade Tattoo based in downtown Las Vegas is the bomb. Not only is he a featured artist on the Spike TV show Ink Master (a fact I learned AFTER I'd narrowed him to my top 2), but he was fantastic in my prospecting consultation. I could see his technique and methodology to prepare for a tattoo experience as I watched him meticulously lay out his materials while we talked. When we got to the part of speaking directly about my design, he came close and listened intently about the 'why' I was inking myself and gave great insight that spoke directly to my need. Ruck walked me through the experience and what I could expect 3 months later at the appointment.  The actual tattoo experience itself lived up to and exceeded my expectations and I'm already plotting my next tattoo.

In contrast to the tat, my root canal was an extremely annoying conclusion to an ongoing tooth issue that plagued me most of 2016. It culminated with me being recommended to Dr. Jet in Lincoln Park who specialized in root canals and worked with people on a budget. The marketing materials for Dr. Jet were sterile yet they thoroughly walked me through what to expect. I was able to call and have a preliminary call with his office and him and it was great. He was explicit and sent me to his website upon concluding the call. It was there that I learned he'd done more than 25,000 root canals and only practiced root canal therapy the last 5 years of his career. There were specific asks of me and expectations were set before he ever put a hand in my mouth. And like my tattoo, Dr. Jet blew my expectations away and there was not one ounce of pain - something I was sure I'd have.

Finally, yesterday after more than 5 months of consideration, I converted my beloved afro to dread locs. During my research stage, I narrowed my selection down to one particular stylist and the whole process from investigation to installation was phenomenal. Diane gave me options about the work and explained the difference between sister locs and loc stitch verses regular dread locs (I didn't even know there was such intricacies) and together we selected the loc stitch style for me. Not only did she do the job well and within the time she promised, she even called me to let me know I'd over paid her from the fee we agreed to.

Experience matters. We need to do business with people who understand what we need and the many possible ways we may need to get there. We need to work with people who have experience in the spaces we are asking them to lead. We need them to be able to speak the language of the people they intend to serve and bring them along for what they can expect while working together. We need reassurance that people doing a job for us have practical and theoretical knowledge of what we are asking.

And just like I did not hand my body over to just anyone to tattoo, perform a root canal or convert my afro, we as a nation should not let just anybody take over such a critical aspect of our existence and future prospects. I understand wanting change. But change that does not add value is likely not change at all.

Betsy DeVos' utter lack of expertise in education is appalling and I am ashamed that it appears I spent more time looking for a tattoo artist, dentist and hair stylist than our president did on finding the best person to lead our education system.