Sarah Lichtner
Nexight Skills Are Life Skills
Sarah LichtnerApril 8, 2016

At Nexight, we regularly apply our diverse technical expertise and tested facilitation, strategic planning, and communication techniques to help our clients solve their most challenging problems. These skills are so effective at developing actionable solutions that I’ve used them to improve how I handle complex situations in my own life as well.

Previously, my colleagues Lindsay Kishter and Chrissy Sherman wrote about their experiences applying facilitation techniques to jury duty and using facilitation to structure community dialogue about health concerns in a rural Nicaraguan community. Here are just a few ways I’ve applied Nexight’s methods to addressing challenges in my own day-to-day life:

  • Research and Analysis — Nexight is always tackling new challenges in new subject areas, which requires us to become as knowledgeable as possible in a relatively short period of time. A few months ago, I was in the middle of a legal dispute with my landlord over needed repairs and had to quickly become an expert in landlord-tenant rights. Much as I would when working with a client, I methodically and thoroughly read everything I could about the laws in our county and the experiences of other residents in similar situations. I also summarized my findings in a way that was accurate while balancing the big picture with the most critical details.
  • Communication — As a technical writer and editor, I have learned to distill highly technical content in disciplines such as manufacturing, biomedicine, and energy generation and storage into language that a broader range of audiences can understand. I’ve found this skillset especially helpful in my volunteer position as an adult literacy tutor. The English language and its many complexing grammar rules can be difficult to understand, particularly for my student whose first language is not English. As I learned more about her and the way she learned best, I was able to adapt my communication of grammar rules in a way that made the most sense to her.
  • Project Management — Projects don’t always progress as planned, but with careful planning and monitoring, the severity of the consequences of the unknown can be greatly reduced. A few months ago, my fiancé and I bought a house. As soon as our settlement date was set, we learned that he would have to leave for a business trip—you guessed it—on the settlement date. It was up to me to coordinate our move, which was incredibly daunting at first. But, once I realized that moving is just a giant project with numerous subtasks—such as packing, transferring internet service, and cleaning—and stakeholders, including movers, I was able to develop a clear project schedule and risk mitigation plan. As a result, everything went smoothly.

At Nexight, we have confidence in our techniques and tools because we have used them time and again to get results for our clients. We believe in the power of our approach to tackle the greatest challenges faced by industries and governments—and even to address complex situations in our own lives.