3 truths about fixing things

3 truths about fixing things:

(1) It generally takes longer than you think.

(2) You develop a deep understanding of the dysfunctional nature of large organizations (if you deal with customer service) or of user manuals.

(3) You develop a lot of appreciation for how smooth things are when they do work. If this emotion is channeled well, you might just walk out of the experience a more grateful, and thus a happier, person.

Clear copy – renewal reminders

I get renewal reminder notices from a few services.

The best such email is from WordPress. In the first paragraph, they highlight – “You don’t have to do anything – this is just a reminder.”

Then, they go on to tell me what I should expect.

Truth be told, that one line ensures reading the email is a stress-free experience.

With other emails, I find myself attempting to parse the rest of the email to figure out what I should be doing. In some cases, I end up making the payment in advance – just in case.

Clear copy goes a long way in improving a customer’s experience.

The Ikea effect – with a twist

The IKEA effect is a cognitive bias in which consumers place a disproportionately high value on products they partially created.

The Ikea effect posits that we disproportionately value furniture we assemble.

I only find that loosely true in my experience. I don’t have a strong attachment to furniture I assemble. In fact, if the assembly is complex and the equipment is expensive, I prefer having an expert do it.

But, I nevertheless find myself assembling things/furniture from time to time. And, when I do, I inevitably cut or bruise myself.

Every time that happens during the assembly process, I find myself looking at the cut or bruise with a warmth that wouldn’t have existed otherwise. That warmth is a result of the halo effect that accompanies a DIY project.

A badge of honor, if you will.

Such events are a reminder of just how much our perspective shapes our life experience.

The Ikea effect – with a twist.

Innovation and basics

A winner of the award for America’s “most innovative winemaker” explained that there was nothing innovative about his approach. He has simply emphasized natural, ecologically sustainable farming, and fermentation for decades.

In a sense, his approach is all about going back to the basics.

But, he’s done that long enough, well enough, and consistently enough to be regarded as among the most innovative folks in his profession.

That idea applies well beyond wine-making.

Stimulus and response

I first read about the space between stimulus and response in Stephen Covey’s “7 Habits” nearly 12 years ago.

I’ve attempted to study the “7 Habits” a few times over the years. And, while I think I’ve made progress over the years and learnt a few things along the way, I often stumble upon reminders that tell me how much farther I have to go.

For example, I recently had one situation where I succeeded in separating stimulus and response. Just as I was feeling good about resisting the temptation to react, I remembered 3 other situations where I failed to do so.

On the bright side, a 25% hit rate is much better than what it used to be.

I’m hoping to continue to improve it in the coming months.

3 questions for urgent collaborations

From time to time, product teams are pulled together to figure out a quick solution to a problem. This sort of urgent + forced collaboration can often be a recipe for confusion and chaos.

A simple way to avoid that is to habitually work through 3 questions in sequential order:
(1) Are we aligned on the problem?
(2) Are we aligned on its importance/priority? (this involves a conversation of the metrics/incentives at play)
(3) Are we aligned on the plan to fix it?

These 3 simple questions are extremely effective in saving conversations from useless tangents and unproductive rabbit holes flow from un-discussed assumptions.

And as with many simple + effective questions, the hard part is not in the knowing. It is in the consistently doing. :-)

Labors of love

In most large organizations, customer service/frontline representatives are actively discouraged to get too emotionally attached to a customer problem.

Be pragmatic, do the basics, and apologize nicely if it doesn’t solve the customer problem.

It definitely seems like the efficient thing to do.

But, customer loyalty is not won by pragmatic actions. It isn’t won by nice apologies either.

It is won by labors of love – when we go the extra mile for our customers.

It is won when folks do exactly what the system tells them not to do.