Tuesday, September 23, 2008

New England Patriots: Win or Be Hated

Our New England Patriots lost this weekend for the first time in 22 regular season games. Some of the fans booed them at the end of the game. Imagine if you were booed for results like that at work: 21 on-time releases followed by one late release would get you yelled at by your boss, or only getting 21 sales out of 22 sales calls would miss your sales quota.

Unfortunately, I suspect the Patriots aren't the only people who need a perfect record to keep their fans happy. You should celebrate your team's winning record instead of focusing on their most recent failure.

Perfect is the Enemy of Done

Voltaire wrote "Le mieux est l'ennemi du bien," frequently translated as "The perfect is the enemy of the good." My youngest daughter would laugh at me if I tried to say that in French. Instead, I'll share my leadership variant on Voltaire:

Perfect is the Enemy of Done

This quote comes in handy too often to remind people that we don't get any value from their perfect work until we deliver it.

Friday, September 19, 2008

A Simple Voice Mail Greeting

My brother-in-law's voice mail greeting is simply "George." It fits with his sense of humor. More than that, though, it's pretty close to perfect. I only need to know two things when I reach voice mail: First, that I've reached voice mail, and second, that I've reached the right voice mail. "George" fills both those roles very well, and as a bonus it makes me chuckle each time I hear it.

Contrast that to the typical voice mail greeting, which starts with "Hello, you've reached the voice mailbox of George." That's pretty obvious. "I can't come to the phone right now." Even if that's true, it's kind of the point of voice mail. We don't need to be reminded. "Your call is important to me." Really? How could he know? "So, leave your name and number at the tone." Again, we've figured this out by now, so why do we feel the need to give voice mail instructions? "And I'll return your call as soon as possible." That is more of a promise than anyone should make to an unknown caller.

We fall into patterns that may have served us in an earlier time, but have outlived their usefulness. It's important to step back and look at those patterns to find better ways of doing things. Now I leave my brother-in-law the message "Ken." He already has my phone number.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Expectations Make A Big Difference

We dropped my oldest daughter off at college a few weeks back and helped her move in. Her room is on the seventh floor of her dorm, so there is no practical alternative to taking loads of her belongings up in one of two small elevators. What was true for us was also true for dozens of other families dropping off their daughters and sons at the same time. The wait for the elevator was about fifteen minutes long. We made it in three loads, each with it's own wait for the elevator.

While a fifteen minute wait might seem like a huge pain, we were thrilled that it was so short. The school had wisely scheduled drop-offs into two hour windows, and they gave us plenty of warning to arrive early because the lines could get long for the elevators. The event was so well run, it almost had a party feel. Simply setting our expectations changed what could have been a horrible first impression into a customer relations delight.