The Mantra of Mediocrity

Engineers at John Deere don’t sit around saying, "Well, last year’s tractor was it. That’s good enough. Let’s just keep making that one." Designers at Apple aren’t sitting with their feet up on the desk, sipping Lattes and saying, "The iPod was the pinnacle. Can’t do any better than that one. That’s good enough." The imagineers at Disney aren’t looking for things to keep them busy while saying, "I think we’re done here. That’s good enough."

When it’s done well, Quality Assessment (QA) is a process of continuous improvement. People aren’t perfect, and there are always opportunities to improve the consistent application of great service principles. The reason that continuous improvement is so important in business is because we live in the midst of continuous change. Technology changes, culture changes, the marketplace changes, and customers’ expectations change.

When you train and coach Customer Service Representatives (CSRs), the communication of this truth is difficult – but critical. As humans we like to settle in to a comfortable routine – and continuous improvement isn’t about settling – it’s about staying alert and a head of the curve.

"Good enough" is the mantra of mediocrity. "Just a little bit better" is the cheer of champions.

  2 comments for “The Mantra of Mediocrity

  1. June 11, 2007 at 5:06 am

    This idea of continuous improvement, or Kaizen, is what helped Japan rise from being the subject of quality ridicule (in the 50’s and 60’s) to quality leader in most of industries it pursues. For those of us operating in emerging economies, this notion is all the more important.

  2. June 11, 2007 at 6:35 am

    Good point, Steve. You’re right. The interesting thing was that I sat in the office of a call center manager last week whose operation is woefully inadequate in almost every respect. I looked up on the wall at the numerous motivational signs and placards the company had handed out. On at least two of them I saw the phrase “practice kaizen”.
    It’s one thing to know about it. It’s another thing to do it. Those who refuse to practice the “continuous improvement” they preach will be left in the dust.

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