Home » Process Improvement » ALWAYS Is Probably Not The Word We Want To Use

Always is probably not the word we want to useBexil’s Robbins doubts that an online lender [Quicken Loans] can thrive once refinancing dries up.  …  “It’s the Achilles’ heel of that particular model,” says Robbins. “I’ve always found that the face-to-face relationship is far superior.”  Quicken’s Rapid Rise In The Mortgage Market, Bloomberg’s Businessweek,  Feb 4, 2012.

Some business slogans are great.  The Quicken Loans’ “Every client.  Every time.  No Exceptions.  No Excuses” is a great example of a focused mindset.  Note, it does not say “how” or specify a method but instead focuses on the results. In this case, dealing with customer questions or complaints.

Compare that with the quote above:  “face-to-face” which specifies “how” and not for what purpose.  I once had a boss that insisted that I call meetings to resolve issues.  When I solved them via e-mail, or chat or over the phone, she was unhappy, usually because she had told senior management that we were going to have a meeting to resolve it.  The humorous part was that we often resolved the issue even before she got her own status meeting minutes complete and sent off to more senior management.

For more see Meeting Madness? Don’t Do It!

I just got an ink refill for my printer.  I could have driven five miles to the nearest Staples or Best Buy, hand selected the ink I wanted — if they had it for my old printer, wait in line to pay (and have the register glitch up or have a long line — both have happened lately) and then driven back to my office.  Instead, I took maybe 30 seconds to pull up Amazon, ordered exactly what I wanted, and in two days it was on my doorstep.  So which was superior?

Neither, of course.  If I was completely out of ink and needed to print something for a client, then the trip to Staples or Best Buy was probably the best.  If I was just low and needed to ensure I had a ready replacement for when it was needed then the 30 second Amazon online order was the most efficient for me (I could have probably done something similar online with Staples or Best Buy).

When we get stuck in doing things we feel are “always … far superior” the use of “always” is a good indicator that we need to look closely at the activity or process. Often it’s the case that we need to move aways from “always” and adopt appropriate activities for different clients and situations.  When I hear that there’s only one way to do something it is very often a key reason why a team or organization is not doing well.

As the situation or environment changes, we need to keep up and respond appropriately.  There are a lot of fundamentals that we will not want to change (honesty, quality, respect for individuals, etc.) but there are other approaches that inevitably must give way to changes in the way people operate.  If we don’t keep up with our customers and their needs, we risk being run over by the changes and having our “always” approach becoming an anchor on our performance.

What “always” rules are in effect in your project that maybe need to be reviewed and revised?

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