Common sense, part 49

October 5, 2007

OK, there haven’t been 48 other ‘common sense’ articles here on Bowl of Cheese, but it feels like I’m constantly ranting about people’s amazing ability to use what little grey matter they might have to royally mung up a situation or to make life more difficult than it has to be.

Since some of the examples in my life right now are politically charged (my sister moving back in with my parents for example), I am only going to provide a list of questionable actions. The names have been changed if there are any listed. And the organizations are all fictional – unless you think that the firm or group has some resemblance to one you recognize. Then the company or group doesn’t exist at all and you never read anything here.

Here we go, topics are categorized with a snippet of info after each…

-Why must people floor it away from each stoplight to get to the next stoplight ahead of other drivers?
-Why must people pass in the right lane when there are three other perfectly serviceable lanes available?
-Is parking within the lines so difficult? If you can’t drive a car at 3MPH into a parking spot, I don’t think you should be on roads that allow you to go 65, 55, 45, 40, 35, 30, 25, 20 or even 10. WALK!
-CarTalk mentioned the other day about a new bumper sticker they’re thinking of creating. It will say, “Please multi-task, my mother needs a kidney”. Sadly, the drivers to whom that applies wouldn’t understand it.


-If it’s so easy for a waiter or waitress to make an executive decision on changing a salad out for soup, why do so many other customer service pro’s miss the point that they are SERVING THE CUSTOMER?
-How about NOT answering the phone when you’re doing business with someone in person? It’s the same as if someone elbowed up to the counter and started talking with the clerk. Get a machine and call people back when you have time.
-Get a clue about the way people work. In a given week, even those freaks who boast about putting in an 80-hour week are only doing about 40% of that. Measure your staff on whether the work gets done, not on 20th Century benchmarks like arrival times, 30-minute lunches or sick days.
Deadlines are absolute. The very meaning of the word deadline means that it is the end point for project or product delivery. If you’re going to use deadlines in your processes, then obey them. Otherwise you should just call them benchmarks or stages and not hold anyone accountable.
-Mingle with the little people. I was listening to a podcast the other day and on it a comedian was talking about the President and how he doesn’t have to stand in line for anything. No airport security, no waiting for a table, no buses, no deli or bakery number machine. This is an extreme example, but how about having an executive talk to customers once in a while. Or have people who think they know what types of food or products people want to buy, chat with everyone that enters their restaurant or store for an entire week. All they’d have to do is ask them three questions: 1-what is the best thing we sell? 2-what one thing do you wish we sold? 3-if you could say one thing to the president of the company, what would it be? Simple. No need to pay a research firm to give you numbers, and you’re already paying this executive a bucketload of cash so the research is already paid for.

It seems that my rant has run a bit sideways because the phone won’t stop ringing and I’ve got to run out to do some errands. But there is one issue that prompted this diatribe.

It’s an experience I had at the local McDonalds in Quincy, MA across from the police station. I stopped by there the other night on the way home. It was WAY late and only the drive-through was open. I had a hankering for a sundae and that’s what I ordered at the speaker when I rolled up. Here’s how that conversation went…

“I’d like a sundae and a small fry.”

“We don’t have sundaes, our hot fudge machine is off.”

“Do you have iced cream?”

“Yes, we could make you a McFlurry.”

*(FYI, the sundae is $1, the McFlurry is $3 or so.)

“Well, if you have iced cream I’ll just have a sundae with no hot fudge.”

“I can’t make a sundae.”

“I know that, I just want the sundae cup full of iced cream. No hot fudge and no nuts.”

“I can only make a McFlurry.”

“Bite me!”

And then I drove off.  I suspect that the boss or the night manager is trying to keep receipt totals up by not allowing customers to order off the dollar menu.

To recap: learn how to drive; pay attention to results, not perception; spend a minute or two in the real world; always order off the dollar menu.

More to come…