Custom tooth color shade

Not everybody has the skill set.

Said a senior technician at a dental lab. I was taken back by his statement. It sounded harsh and arrogant, contrary to his benign demeanor. Without consideration for my wince, he smiled and continued,

Everybody has a different skill set. They may not be good at identifying colors, but they are good at something else.

That reminded me of the Peter Principle, “people in a hierarchy tend to rise to a level of respective incompetence.” It means employees are promoted based on their success in previous jobs until they reach a level at which they are no longer competent, as skills in one job do not necessarily translate to another.

Now, why was I at the dental lab in the first place, you ask? I was there for a custom tooth shade match. I didn’t realize that my tooth color shade was unique until I needed a crown. To make one, my dentist sent me to a dental lab where a technician sketched my tooth with color pencils. Three weeks later, without going back to the lab, I received a perfect temporary crown. Seriously, it was the best quality I’ve ever seen. Six months later, the time came to create a final crown. When I drove back to the lab for another color sketch and saw a different technician, I wondered if his skills would be as good as the first technician’s. I scratched the thought out immediately. Technicians are technicians. They know what I don’t know.

For the final crown, I had to go back to the lab for the actual coloring. It was intriguing to watch the technician painting the crown with inks, mini palette, and brushes. Detailed and delicate work. Now I know why their products are top-notch, so when the finished product missed the mark completely, it was beyond incomprehensible. How did it happen? Unfortunately, it wasn’t the last time. After going back and forth between the lab and dental office, my dentist and I demanded that the lab bring their A game; otherwise, we’d go to another lab. They restructured the team, started my case from scratch, and assigned a senior custom color shade technician to it.

After explaining the difference of materials, process of making a crown, and how mistakes happen, the technician smiled, “It’s never going to be perfect as we are trying to copy a natural product.”

A week ago, my dentist placed the final crown in my mouth. It’s as perfect as it can be, which makes me even more unique.

The Peter Principle can be applied not only to people in hierarchy, but also to most people in general. Everybody has their own strengths and weaknesses. Some storytellers may not be good with story structures, but they may excel at delivery. I enjoy listening to folktales, but telling them is a different story.

Now, let me ask you. What are your skill sets?