Thursday, July 5, 2012

Pew! It's Time To Change The Baby!

I recently took my family out to eat following my son’s high school graduation. It would have been a perfect day…except for the screaming baby in the booth right behind us. The parents hardly seemed to notice their baby, however. They ate and talked while their baby screamed and threw food all around him. (From the smell, I am fairly certain it needed to be changed, too!) How could these people not notice how smelly and disturbing their baby was being to everyone in that restaurant?

The truth is that they cannot see, hear or smell the baby because it is THEIR baby. They see it every day. They smell it every day. They have seen it throw much worse tantrums in the past. They are so close to the baby that what it is doing right now doesn’t even seem that bad to them. The baby has become “invisible”.

The same thing can happen in our businesses. We work in the same building every day so we do not see the carpet getting dirtier over time. We eat lunch in the same break room every day and so we don’t even notice that the counters are getting stained and stickier each day. We ride in the same trucks every day and so we do not see the drink cans and candy wrappers that accumulate in them. In the course of our jobs, we have all experienced a major crisis or two in the past and worked in some pretty horrible conditions to fix a problem. As a public utility, we’ve seen things that were vile and smelled things that would make you gag…so a small sewer spill in someone’s yard doesn’t seem to be anything important. We are so close to what we do every day that much of it, like that baby in the restaurant, has become invisible to us.

To be great at what we do, we cannot allow our “baby” to become invisible. We must force ourselves to open our eyes fresh and new every day. We must look at our facilities, trucks, uniforms and worksites the same way a customer does when they see them for the first time. To run the kind of business we must be, we need to remember that the “baby” is ours. It smells worse than we think it does. It’s louder and more obnoxious than we think it is. If we try to ignore it, it’s only going to get worse. Our “baby”…our company… needs to be changed… for the better. It’s OUR job to change OUR baby.

When was the last time you checked on your “baby”?