Saturday, February 5, 2011

Are We Putting the Cart Before the Horse?

I may not be the first to say this but I am concerned with our country’s obsession with instant gratification. It seems that we are constantly bombarded in the media by the newest, the prettiest and the biggest of anything out there and the need to have it now. Understand that I do not blame the media because it serves a purpose in bringing us information. What concerns me is it seems that we are becoming focused more on profits and less on service. I think this is putting the cart before the horse. Let me give you an example.

When I first opened up my personal computer service business in the early 1980s, I was focused on how to troubleshoot and repair this new phenomenon called the IBM personal computer. I found out that it was extremely difficult for the owner of an IBM personal computer to have it repaired after a malfunction. IBM stipulated that its customers had to remove any non-IBM components prior to returning the unit to a regional service center for repair.

There were a number of problems with this approach. The first problem was caused by removing the non-IBM component. Many times these components (such as memory cards and communications ports) were the source of the problem. An additional problem was also caused by the fact that the service center was often times located a number of miles away from the customer’s location. This fact in and of itself caused the customer to be without their computer for weeks.

I thought to myself what if someone started a business that would go to the clients home or place of business in order to troubleshoot and repair the customer’s computer regardless of any third-party equipment? This passion overwhelmed me and within six months I had resigned my position with IBM and began the lonely life of an entrepreneur. However, I was an entrepreneur with a passion. My passion was to provide exemplary customer service. I found that my profits rose as I focused on ways to improve service.

I successfully followed that formula for over 20 years. During one of those years my company was recognized by Inc. Magazine as one of the 500 fastest growing privately held corporations in America. The point I am making is that as leaders we have to be able to identify and articulate those values that we hold sacred. I do not advocate that we go back to the old way of doing things. That would be like saying we should throw away the Internet and never use the media.

My point is that we should recognize they are tools that we can use to implement our values throughout our organization while we focus on creating those programs that provide lasting value to our clients as well as profit to our organizations. Let’s put the horse back in front of the cart.

1 comment:

Alyssa said...