I’ve never met Amy Hoy, the author of this piece and a successful startup founder herself, but I know a good thing when I see it.
And when I read it.
Take a few minutes to read over this article and let me know what you think.
Go ahead. Take your time.
This might just be the most valuable 9 minutes you spend today. There are several important takeaways here - far too many to mention - but none more important than this:
“The reason the students (OK, we might think of them as employees) resist the process every step of the way is because their entire self-concept is at risk:They’ve never worked in an environment where results are all that matters.
They’ve never worked in an environment where results are all that matters. They’ve been coddled by parents, the school system, and their bosses. Their work is abstract; they rarely if ever see the end product of their work in use, they rarely if ever meet anyone who uses the product of their work in its final form.
Until now, they’ve always worked for approval, abstracted from results: the question has always been, Is this the answer the teacher wants? or Did the committee like it? — not Is it true? and Did it help the customer?”
Amen, brother. Amen.
Want another take on it?
A friend of mine is a business consultant in England - although he doesn’t call himself that. He was (and still is) involved with the television show “Dragon’s Den”. You may be more familiar with the American version: Shark Tank.
He likes to tell the story of trying to engage factory workers at a British aircraft plant. Most were bored, distracted, and simply not paying much attention at work. This resulted in costly repairs, excess inventory, high turnover, and sometimes even death.
Not of the workers, you see. Just the customers.
One day, he got the brilliant idea to take one of the union reps on a little field trip on a sunny afternoon. Just after tea, they all piled into a brand spanking new helicopter and took off for an aerial tour of London. The union rep, Doris, was glued to the window enjoying every minute as the scenery swept by.
After about 30 minutes or so, my friend asked the union rep what she did at work. “I make parts, love. Little spin-around things. Don’t know quite what they do, but I makes them every day.”
Not wanting to miss his opportunity, my friend pointed up at the rotorblades all connected to a central hub.“Doris, dear, those spin-around things you make?”
“They’re what’s keeping us up in the air.”
Doris remained focused on that hub until they were all safely on the ground.
And quality, at least as far as rotor hubs go, became significantly more important after that.
Here’s the deal: Most of us are disconnected from our actions. We don’t get to see the results of the work - mistakes or not - we turn in each day.
All too often, we think of customers, end-users, or suppliers as abstract concepts, if we think of them at all. They are not.
Best to keep that in mind.