We often choose something; sometimes because we want to, and other times because we have to, but how do we choose? There has to be some form of measurement that helps us to compare. It may be as subjective as colour or style or more objective as in, say, performance or size. These choices may be personal or business, but we all make them every day.
Those who try to influence us in these choices will strive to pander to those choice triggers. The world of advertising had a field day in the post WW2 eras as the production capacity switched from military needs to consumer goods and fed an increasing affluent society.
From the 1970s onwards a series of events; oil crises, financial downturns and such saw the boom years come to an end and competition to persuade us has become more and more sophisticated, these days with social media and the like playing their part in parting us with our cash.
Some of all that is on a personal level, but business has seen a parallel experience although the choices here are normally much less subjective. Whether we are in facilities management, logistics or any other business discipline we are much more performance related in our decision making and so those who would sell us have looked to raise the bar in that area.
We talk of excellence in what we sell and what we seek. Consider this quotation; “In anything at all, perfection is finally attained not when there is no longer anything to add, but when there is no longer anything to take away” Antione de Saint-Exupery sums it up well there, but what is this state to which we aspire?
Does competition drive excellence? To some degree it does, but if we take sports as an example of competition, there are those who will demonstrate how to win with minimum effort; Sir Jackie Stewart will tell you all about winning at the slowest pace for example. Following this example there are a lot of companies that are content to just be better than the rest rather than to excel.
Am I suggesting that we abandon the quest for perfection just because of this? No I’m not. The point I’m making is that what happens when we look at competing solutions is that we pick what we see as the best to fulfil our need as we see it at the time. Now that may not be a great solution, but better than what we have now and better than anything else so we choose it. If it helps us achieve something then it may well be worth accepting but, if not, we probably won’t, or shouldn’t bother. Hobson’s Choice, as we used to say.
What we want is to have great things to choose from, and that is what those of us in the service industry try to create and deliver. It is what competition should be all about in this context, and there will be times when we have the right thing for the moment; when we catch the wave and ride it in. It will be a transient moment, sure, but getting it right and creating the thing of choice is such a buzz that you’ll want to do it again and again.
If we truly want to make a difference we have, as my friend Ian Berry down under will tell you, you have to change what is normal.
Perfection made be hard, even impossible, but doing something extraordinary is within reach of us all, so why not try? Make a difference.