The Double Bind

Understanding Contradictory Messages

CBC provides three core IT services. Project Consulting, Managed Services, and Break-Fix repair. Regardless of which hat we wear, client interactions inevitably place us in what’s known as a ‘double bind’ situation.

A practical example to illustrate. Assume a client engages for a ‘simple’ break-fix replacement of a laptop hard drive. End users assume this is easily and quickly done. Remove cover, remove old drive, insert new drive, replace cover. 4 steps, what could possibly be ‘hard’ about this?

Glad you asked! Let’s review a few of the ‘easy’ upfront questions we need to answer prior to initiating a repair.

  • Is there data on the old drive requiring recovery or transfer to the new drive?
  • Is there a current backup of the old drive we can use to restore to the new drive?
  • Is there a like-for-like part available or do look at aftermarket replacement?
  • Are there 3rd party applications, (Adobe, Microsoft, etc.), to be reinstalled?
  • Are the 3rd party application license keys available?
  • Is the operating system, (Windows), properly licensed for reinstallation?
  • Is the repair cost-effective compared to a unit replacement?

Armed with answers to the above questions, we determine a course of action. This is when the double bind presents itself. End user expectations are now that we have the answers, the repair proceeds both quickly AND carefully. However we know that if we proceed too quickly and something goes wrong, we weren’t careful enough. If we proceed carefully and something goes wrong, we weren’t quick enough.

As experienced professionals, we are aware of the double bind contradiction and proceed utilizing the experience and best practices acquired over 30+ years. This includes setting appropriate end user expectations. If a potential client does not or is not willing to accept our work methodology, it’s probably not a good fit and both sides should move on.

Double binds are inevitable. The experienced IT professional plans accordingly.

The Magic Wand

What Is Our Value To You?

Let’s flip the script regarding what our repair services ‘should’ cost. It’s an easy exercise and requires you to answer one, simple question.

I have a magic wand in my backpack. If waving the wand fixes your problem and prevents it from happening again, how much are you willing to pay us to wave the wand?

Lowest Cost Bid

We Own A Million Dollar Home But You Aren’t The Cheapest

A classic line we hear from folks in the ‘shopping around’ phase: “I can get it cheaper from Company X.”

Our respectful response: “Then get it cheaper from Company X.”

In a market as competitive as IT services, (where no federal or state license is required), a race to the bottom usually leads to bad behavior — but smart customer know this. The US Navy doesn’t award submarine construction contracts to the lowest bidder. Every great and successful brand is known for something other than lowest cost.

Henry Ford achieved initial success with mass production, interchangeable parts, and efficient manufacturing processes resulting in the lowest cost vehicles on the market. Quickly, Ford realized that people didn’t actually want the cheapest car. They wanted, and still want, a car to be proud of, a bit safer, a bit more stylish, and in the current world we inhabit, maybe a bit more eco friendly.

Everyone wants quality products built by people who care. Not coincidentally, people who care are usually paid a living wage. Their vocation allows them to be productive company contributors, but also productively contribute to their communities.

In the long run, ‘I can get it cheaper’ is a refuge for folks possessing short term, transactional thinking. Ultimately they realize ‘you get what you pay for’ is not just a cliche.

This post is adapted from and thank you Seth for the inspiration!