Ever heard of ‘false metrics’? It is a very humane thing to look at a relatively insignificant part of a system, although it is an important indicator of success. For example, a manager can track the productivity of his employees and ensure that they are all ‘on time.’ However, arriving early is not a guarantee of productivity, and measuring it is not a thing to ensure your result. Et voila: fake metric.
When you run a business – or top a department – there are plenty of opportunities to fall into the trap of false metrics measurements. Here’s one: The manager’s innate desire to ensure that his customers ‘behave appropriately.’
‘My four-year-old looks at you’
My brother, Chantelle, tells a story about his son Joshua, who started attending nursery school for the first time. Joshua was told he had to follow 10 steps in the cutting exercise, but Joshua found a way to do it faster. The teacher told him to follow 10 steps, otherwise he was ‘not doing it properly’.
When his mother fondly recalls the teacher’s annoyance, she says the four-year-old retriever actually turned his gaze on her. Apparently he argued, quite emotionally, that the extra steps were foolish.
Joshua had trouble doing the wrong thing. But one might argue that, like Joshua, there are two ways to look at it …
Are you listening to your Joshua?
Unsurprisingly, life is smoother and easier when customers behave. When they follow our internal rules and procedures, the manager’s headaches melt into a warm cream of comfort. Although the problem is twofold:
1: They are not under any moral obligation at all. We want their patronage, and not those who are forced to satisfy or force us; And
2: Sometimes our own internal rules are simply wrong. Or at least, incompetent. When a customer tries to short-circuit them, he or she is trying to teach you to run your business and service a little better.
What if …?
When customers bypass your process, short-circuiting your systems or breaking your rules, they often look for success and convenience. What if you invented your own processes and gave them to them?
While some rules may be forgotten (legal compliance for example), many are not. These are just our own processes, and we love them individually. The good news is that these are our rules, and we can break them. Our customers are showing us where our internal barriers are and how we are making it difficult for them to pay them if we are interested.
To reduce the ridiculous rules, try these three exercises:
1. Ask any rule nonsense
Ask your employees which customers think the rules are stupid, they are in the front line and they will usually be happy to let you know how to make life easier for everyone. Of course, you can’t always give them or customers all the discounts they want. But in many cases you could try. Allow this response to lead you to all new industry innovations that could eventually become unique selling points.
2. Burn the building
Gather your leadership team and set the following rule for your strut. Session:
‘The conventional method of doing this has been banned. And how can we serve the same need? ‘Or alternatively:’ We are now our competitors. We have half the budget, but our hearts and animals have been invested in one purpose: to bring down the real organization! We can’t do it the way they do. So how can we go about it? ‘Or even:’ The company has burned to the ground. We lost everything. We need to serve our customers but we need a new, cheaper, faster way to do it right now that we don’t rely on any tools or rules or systems before. What did you get? ‘
3. Give the enterprise test
Studies gradually show that disruptive innovation comes from outside an industry. This is because the people in it do not see the problems in an easy way. They look through the mountain lenses of their own rules and regulations. Enter: Starship Enterprise Test.
Consider: If you want a meal of steak and vegetables, you have to run a restaurant, park, wait for a table, order food, then wait.
In the enterprise, however, you will say: ‘Computer. Food. Prime Rib-Eye Steak and Vegetables’ Puff! Your food appears. A single step to achieve the goal.
This thought practice – asking how it will work in the Starship Enterprise – can lead to moments of establishing entirely new product segments. This is a recipe for radical innovation and complete disruption. It helps you not to think like a rule-bound art-inherent, and helps you to ‘look around’ the complex ways that your companies solve today, because there’s always an easier, faster way.
The merit of this thinking lies in the ability to remove your thinking from the way it has always been. They invite you to find creative ways to provide the “final version of the end result.”
Rules help. Except when they don’t. The good news is that they are your rules. When their extinction leads to better business you can and will break them down.