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Once is not enough

When folks solve a problem these days, they get through the immediate situation with a fix, then move on to the next activity.
In their wake, there is …. nothing.
I was revelling in my new Iphone 5S and wandered into the office. There was no connection. I hit “settings”. Called up the office wifi. Wanted it. No password. Tried all the usual variations.

When the wifi was set up, the password was installed and the tech guy moved on. No record. Left behind a one time sterile device that, as long as everything stayed as it was, worked. However, magically, in this age, things change. Now I can’t get into my own wifi. My only recourse is to retrace steps and try to find out which iteration of tech person had installed the thing and to have them wrack their memory for the password they used. Or sit and try all the old standbys until one worked. Or buy a new wifi and start all over with full spend. What a waste!
I keep a file for all tech installs with the passwords and relevant install info. Somehow, this one got by me.

I run into this so much and it is part of the age of unending rework. People who don’t record their work for the rest of us to know. Therefor creating one time, frozen in time, products of their work. The next time we encounter the issue, we have to start all over from square one.
People don’t record and they don’t file. In such a way that others can follow their tracks AND NOT HAVE TO REDO WHAT THEY HAVE DONE.

It is the same with meetings. Workers meet, discuss, set course. And move on. No one else can know what was resolved or considered. A huge “innovation” we insist on in projects? Minutes. So we can know what has happened, what is settled and forms the basis for next action. Otherwise, we go over and over the same territory, re-debate, re-discuss, re-determine, re-settle. Noticed the recurring prefix? RE. This is the dreaded and completely unproductive REWORK in knowledge workers.

Another example. We had a fireplace insert put in to our 40 year old drafty opening in our house. We contracted with a supplier and installer and in due time, the arrangement came to fruition.
The installer came. And left. What we found when we got home was the insert sitting in the opening. No word of what had been done or what would follow. Good thing I didn’t light a fire. It wasn’t hooked up!
I had no way of knowing. Next day we came home and more of the same. No note, just the insert looking more settled. Went outside, saw a new chimney cap. Opened the door and felt the wind coming down into the unit. Saw a wisp of burnt paper on the floor of the insert. Maybe he’d tried it out?
I guessed…. it was done. Didn’t know what I could do safely. Nothing other than a manufacturers pamphlet. No communication. No nothing.
Finally took a chance. After all, we had paid mightily for the chance! Lit a fire – you can’t retreat from that! And it worked! Amazing. Now what happens? There were parts of the install we expected that weren’t there. What’s next with those? No clues were left. Have to call and go back through it all with the account rep who has to track down the installer, find out and report back with any adjustments – going back and forth up and down the wire until done. WHAT A WASTE!

Discipline! Customers:
– want to know whether the work is finished
– confirmation that what was done was in fact what they asked for
– instruction as to how to start and use what has been provided.
– they leave behind information recorded in a format particular to their situation that can be filed and kept in case of future change.

OK, lots of customers do not have the basket – eg. mindspace. – to hold or deal with that information. They are the same as the perpetrators. They don’t record. They don’t file. They operate as if they will never have to go over this ground again.

Don’t penalize the intelligent with the dispositions of the shortsighted!

People are increasingly transactional in their framework. Once and on to the next. That’s their fault. But it is not a basis for the creation of lasting value.

There is a warranted backlash as folks start valuing longer form thinking and the need to retrace and restore what has been done once. It doesn’t happen all the time, but when it does, having the record in a findable place is gold.

The point? In your work, design, implement and supervise to make sure people are recording and filing what is done so others can follow the trail.
Build that into your process and supervise to make sure it is done. The payoff? Much less rework…. my current hobby horse. Hope you enjoy the ride!

Doug Bouey
Catalyst Strategic Consultants Ltd.

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What’s Our Business?

Bringing out the best in you, your company and your people.

Doug Bouey, President
Catalyst Strategic Consultants Ltd.

Calgary, AB // Phone: 403.777.1144


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