Thursday, February 25, 2010

Avoiding Boring

I was learning about a software company’s presales on-boarding process recently and noted a practice that reminded me of a Seth Godin blog post from a few months back…

The on-boarding process included the following steps (among many others) for a newly hired presales person:

1. Watch our current demo.
2. Read the script.
3. Learn it.
4. Prove you know it by presenting the demo in a role-play session [they called this the “Certification Review”].

The candidate presales person lost points for going off-script or incorporating any changes. Seems like a great plan to ensure that the new hire can follow the process dependably, right?

Here’s Seth’s blog post – it may make us rethink this kind of “certification”:

Upside vs. downside

How much of time, staffing and money does your organization spend on creating incredible experiences (vs. avoiding bad outcomes)?

At the hospital, it's probably 5% on the upside (the doctor who puts in the stitches, say) and 95% on the downside (all the avoidance of infection or lawsuits, records to keep, forms to sign). Most of the people you interact with in a hospital aren't there to help you get what you came for (to get better) they're there to help you avoid getting worse. At an avant garde art show, on the other hand, perhaps 95% of the effort goes into creating and presenting shocking ideas, with just 5% devoted to keeping the place warm or avoiding falls and spills as you walk in.

Which is probably as it should be.

But what about you and your organization? As you get bigger and older, are you busy insuring that a bad thing won't happen that might upset your day, or are you aggressively investing in having a remarkable thing happen that will delight or move a customer?

A new restaurant might rely on fresh vegetables and whatever they can get at the market. The bigger, more established fast-food chain starts shipping in processed canned food. One is less reliable with bigger upside, the other—more dependable with less downside.

Here's a rule that's so inevitable that it's almost a law: As an organization grows and succeeds, it sows the seeds of its own demise by getting boring. With more to lose and more people to lose it, meetings and policies become more about avoiding risk than providing joy.

The link for Seth’s post is:

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