Knowing when to take some advice

My wife is not a good cook. She is beautiful and smart, the utterly organized complement to my barely-controlled chaos, and my utter soulmate, but we generally try to keep her out of the kitchen.

My wife is not a good cook. She is beautiful and smart, the utterly organized complement to my barely-controlled chaos, and my utter soulmate, but we generally try to keep her out of the kitchen. It's really better for everyone involved, although the kids are usually happy when I have to work late since they know it will be grilled cheese night (and who doesn't love grilled cheese?).

That being said, it's not often that I look to her for advice in the kitchen. I really like cooking and, while I'm no Julia Child, I'm pretty good. So tonight, when all of my Christmas cookies seemed to be burning, I was quick to blame our aging oven. Walking by, she asked me why I was spraying the cookie sheets with cooking spray, noting that they should really be ungreased. I quickly dismissed her advice, having the need to prevent sticking, well, stuck in my head.

Of course, she was right. The cookies had enough butter in them to keep them from sticking to everything except Santa's belly and the extra oil was simply heating them too much (although I maintain that I do still need a new convection oven).

Don't worry, I'm getting to a point here, but I need to tell one more story first.

Before our wacky ice storm shut us down for a week, I was working on improving bandwidth in our schools and, at the same time, needed to reduce voice costs. It didn't take me long to jump on the integrated T1 bandwagon and start shopping vendors. I found one that was offering me a deal I couldn't refuse on a solution that I knew would be perfect for several of our schools from a technical perspective. Integrated data and voice with POTS services allocated dynamically, all for less than we were currently paying for crappy DSL and too few phone lines? Count me in!

Then our business manager stepped in. Ever the voice of reason (or the big party-pooper, depending upon your perspective), she smelled something fishy in the deal. She did some digging and, as it turns out, a few subtle details would have had us violating state procurement laws. This wasn't through anything underhanded on my part or that of the vendor; she just happens to know the procurement laws better than anyone I've ever met and have a knack for detail rivaled only by my wife.

So here's the point. Most of us know our jobs very well. I may not be the best Windows tech or a Linux guru, but I know how to evaluate a problem and identify a solution. I know how to manage projects and I can articulate the vision, mission, goals, and objectives for a project faster than say RACI chart. I can summarize, liaise, and speak tech-talk, teacher-talk, and everything in between. However, no matter how good we are at our jobs, none of us work in a vacuum.

We are surrounded by plenty of other people who know their jobs very well too. Just like our business manager was able to sort out the potential problems with the data deal that I simply missed and my wife happened to remember that her grandparents never sprayed their cookie sheets at Christmas, these colleagues are valuable resources. We just can't be too quick to dismiss collaborative efforts when they get in the way of our solutions; there can't be any sacred cows when budgets are tight and students' educations are at stake, no matter how wedded we might be to a particular way of solving a problem. That might even mean letting my wife in the kitchen occasionally.

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