As I was helping one of my teenagers deliver an award-winning local magazine to Royston residents, one of the householders complimented me on the fact that I had walked around his front garden and down his drive rather than taking the shortcut across the shrub bed – as some other delivery people did.
As I smugly continued delivering down the street, a business metaphor started forming inside my head – an idea for this month’s article.
I thought I would start by acknowledging that in business, ‘cutting corners’ is wrong – my not bothering to use the path would have shown an undesirable laziness.
But then I reconsidered – surely finding an easier way to do something is a hallmark of the successful entrepreneur and innovator?
More than that – I know I actively recommend business owners challenge the ‘we’ve always done it this way’ mentality, in order to introduce fresh thinking and improvement into their business.
So which is right? Should this article suggest you take the long way round, or encourage you to find a quicker way of doing the task?
A couple of streets later, the answer came to me – I had fallen into the trap of thinking about my ‘business’ from my own perspective.
Who are the most important people here? Not me, it’s the customers!
Of course we should look to being efficient with our resources, but we must also make sure we don’t compromise our customers’ needs.
Later on I saw another householder who had stepping stones across his grass, so I was happy to use those and I took the opportunity to thank him for helping me be more efficient in my deliveries.
The two customers clearly had different needs – which I hopefully met. They also had one thing in common: the genuine pleasure at receiving a quality product!