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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Ever Been Stuck on an Escalator?

Click on the play button below for an example of what I mean: 

I know this little scenario may seem totally ridiculous to you...but I'll bet, at least metaphorically, we've all been 'stuck on an escalator' at some point in time... and some of us may be stuck on one right now. 

Here's why:

In business, and in life, we often associate and apply rules, policies and processes to situations for which they they were not intended... and sometimes, they are just as silly as the ones being applied by the two people in this video.

Take for example;
  • the Customer Service Rep who refuses to allow the return of a minor purchase by a long time loyal customer citing some obscure or ill-conceived detail in the return policy as rational;  
  • the support department that, before it acts, refers virtually every decision, big or small, to the legal department just because of a single and somewhat obscure incident that happened years ago; 
  • the bank that asks a customer they have been dealing with for years, to fill out a pile of forms and jump through multiple security hoops to open a  new deposit account... notwithstanding the fact that it's the customer entrusting their money with the bank, not the other way around; 
  • or my personal favorite, the complaint department that with every call, is more concerned about finding out who was at fault and why, than what it is going to take to put things right... and keep the customer!
In fairness, management may have had all good intentions when the policies and processes driving these actions were developed, and probably never imagined they would be applied in situations where they would do far more harm than good. But nevertheless, they often are... even by equally well meaning employees!

Maybe it's time we all asked ourselves, "Do the rules, policies and processes I create, live and/or work by make sense?" If not, we may well find ourselves stuck on an escalator, or causing others that same fate.

The good news is, it only takes a little common sense to figure out how to get off an escalator. So perhaps the better question is: How do we make common sense common practice?

Any suggestions?

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