My husband and I have been married for more than 10 years, and despite the happy life we’ve created for our growing family, we still have problems. Take, for instance, our mail problem. Like most people out there, we get a ton of mail, most of it junk. And yet since I – the bill payer in the family – have yet to get with the times and pay my bills online, we also get important mail, like our mortgage and car payment coupons, as well as mail we enjoy, like the handful of magazines we subscribe to and a certain percentage of the catalogs we receive.
Depending on the day, either of us might pick up the mail from the box at the end of the driveway and because neither of us has agreed to a method for sorting it, it piles up throughout the house on tables, chairs, countertops and yes, sometimes even the floor. Occasionally, things get lost. But even more often, one of us gets fed up with the growing piles of junk mail, and the two of us end up butting heads over why we can’t seem to solve this problem.
You would think that two professionals with college degrees could find a way to tackle this organizational nightmare. It’s that cliché and yet oh-so-accurate observation that, “Nothing changes if nothing changes.” And I’m pretty sure I know what needs to change. We need a process.
Seattle Boat Company’s James Baker submitted a story about a problem that dealership solved last year for the Marine Dealer Conference & Expo Best Ideas Program. During a discussion of its successes and failures at its annual meeting, the executives were surprised to conclude that its biggest downfall was poor communication, both within the company and with its customers. The dealership solved the problem by creating a process for how it would conduct even the most simple of communication tasks, such as returning phone calls and e-mails. Then, it asked all employees to read through the policy, sign it and hold themselves and each other accountable to it. The result? Improvements in employee trust and respect for one another, higher customer satisfaction and greater organizational efficiency.
We can all learn something from Seattle Boat Company’s experience, as well as the other 29 best ideas submitted, which will be distributed as an e-white paper later this month to all MDCE attendees. Sometimes it’s the smallest details in our daily work and home lives that get neglected, take on a life of their own and end up causing the most havoc. As the new year gets underway, now is the time to solve them and ensure a more peaceful and productive year ahead.
P.S. If the problem you’re solving is at home, I don’t recommend putting the new policy under your spouse’s pillow to be signed.