Move the Table, Not the Wall

 

Seth Godin’s recent post, Linear and Parallel, highlights the importance of working and thinking in parallel as opposed to linearly (with the exception of the initial sales process).  One point that stood out to me:

“If you want to make a buffet go faster, all you need to do is move the serving table away from the wall and let people serve themselves on either side.”

So simple.  We’ve all been in the buffet line that’s moving too slow, and thought, “If they would only serve on both sides, we’d get through a lot quicker.”  But how often do we think this when the buffet table is our product or service?

We’ve identified the problem – we need to service or get product to our customers faster.  We correctly identify that we should serve from both sides of the table.  But we don’t move the table; we determine we need to move the wall.  We rationalize our decision – this meets our need, we don’t have enough room now, etc. We further rationalize to ourselves that this will not happen quickly, because, you see, walls are not easy to move, but in order to serve our customers, we must move the wall.  Moving the wall becomes the top priority, the main objective.  We invest time, resources and money to move the wall, and eventually, we move the wall (apologizing to our customers for the’ minor’ inconvenience, but this is progress!).  But when we finish, are our customers still in line to be served?  Did they wait for us, or did they move to another table?

These days, it is likely our customer has moved on.  We were too slow to respond, adapt, and adjust.  All we have to show for it is a new wall.  But, we’ll be ready next time when the customers come back (more rationalization). 

Before you decide to move wall, take a step back and look for the simple solution first, keeping in mind that the initial problem was to serve the customer faster, not to move a wall.

Think about it: How many times have we moved a wall, when we should have just moved the table?

Let me know your thoughts!

 

Glenn Whitfield

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