Have you ever noticed that anybody driving slower than you is an idiot, and anybody driving faster is a maniac? – George Carlin
How true this is – regardless of the (figurative) vehicle we might be driving. It illustrates how people, as a rule, tend to judge the actions and performance of others relative to their own.
As one who supports an office full of very smart and talented people, but ones who have a varying amount of technological knowledge, I’m constantly reminded of that little bit of reality. The level of experience and knowledge around here runs the gamut - literally from one extreme to the other.
The best engineer in our office, for example, might be challenged with a computer issue that I might consider rather simple. He/she might call me when faced with the simplest of problems. On the other hand, there are those who are actually very computer savvy, and they require very little (or no) support; if they run into a glitch, they delve into it until they figure it out on their own.
Is the first type of person the preferred kind of user, or is it the latter? I believe the answer is a resounding yes. Diversity of talent and experience – it’s not something to be frowned upon, but rather something to be recognized and embraced. We simply cannot create an equal playing field, hoping that all people can be treated the same.
While some questions might seem obvious to me, other people might be driving at a slower speed – that is, they have less experience with a certain issue. It’s just not possible to bring all people up to speed, so to speak, or to slow them down. As professionals who provide user support, we have to adjust our speed to meet theirs.
The biggest challenge I have is not supporting the computer infrastructure, but rather supporting the people who use that infrastructure. They all have a job to do, and depending on the speed they're capable of driving (or choose to drive), they might require different levels of support.
This might be something we should all keep in mind – varying levels of experience and knowledge will demand a different approach when providing support. They have their job to do, and I have mine. How much one overlaps the other is always a matter of perspective – and the speed one might be capable of traveling.
There are no idiots; and there are no maniacs; there are only unique and individual users – all of whom deserve equal, but different, consideration.