They might not be described in any system that you have ever seen before, and you may have serious doubts about their value now and in the future. How should you approach your client, and what kind of concerns should you have or not have?
First of all, you must be respectful and open. The client is doing the best that they absolutely can, and have implemented a system that has successfully gotten them this far in life. There is some evidence in their experience that something is working, or has worked well.
Also, you need to be open to the idea that they may have discovered some new innovation, or technique that is new in the world (or new to you) and actually works better than any other option. As someone who has been on the receiving end of this kind of comment, I can report that it suck…I have had a number of people tell me that the ideas emerging from 2Time Labs won’t work… without a shred of evidence on their part, and sometimes with lots of research on mine.
Here’s the test that you need to apply in cases like this.
Take a look with them at what is likely to happen if the number of time demands were to dramatically increase. Would that technique still work? Would it continue to provide them peace of mind (or whatever their ultimate goal might be?)
If you are both satisfied that there won’t be a problem, then say nothing more.
If, however, the unusual practice doesn’t scale well, then try to determine what an upgrade would look like, and how much of a modification would be needed.
Here are 2 common examples:
1) Some clients (and in particular those who are smart) attempt to juggle their life’s time demands using their memory. That works well when the number is small, long before they have kids, buy a house, take out loans, double their workload, take care of a sick parents, etc. At some point, it’s best to stop using memory-based techniqes altogether, but some never make the switch. Once they do, however, they can start to use paper or electronic tools and radically improve their productivity.
2) Back in the early 1990’s when email was popularized, it wasn’t a bad idea to store all your email in your Inbox. That technique is one that worked at a time when your computer announced “You’ve Got Mail!”, and the number of incoming messages per day numbered in the single digits.
Today, the average professional receives 147 messages per day, and for most, that technique simply falls apart as Inboxes devolve into permanent places of storage. (It’s better to treat it like a kitchen sink – a temporary staging point for further action.)