Very few hours go by at BlueGrace without someone using a sports analogy or sports quote to make a point. It’s remarkable how often that what works in sports also works in business. Vince Lombardi is probably quoted more than anyone else in sports. Everyone knows the standard quotes; “Winning is not everything – but making the effort to win is.” and “Winning is not a sometime thing, it is an all the time thing.” But my favorite is “Perfection is not attainable. But if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence.”
Just earlier tonight I asked some associates a question. Are we setting up unrealistic expectations for our Customers? Huge percentages of shipments are handled without incident, but when something goes wrong it’s like the sky is falling. I hear that perhaps we are risking losing that customer because of this. But what about those previous 97 shipments that moved without a problem? Don’t they buy us enough goodwill to survive a mistake? Transportation is not an exact science. Trucks break down, traffic jams happen, and freight sometimes ends up at the wrong terminal. With so many moving parts, isn’t failure just part of the deal?
Of course I am asking the wrong questions. The questions should be: what went wrong? How can we learn from this mistake to prevent it happening again in the future? Have we explained the issue to the customer? Do we understand the full impact of the mistake to our customer? Not to sound like a previous President, but are we feeling their pain?
The fear of losing our customer is what needs to drive our pursuit of perfection. If we are perfect we will never disappoint our customers or ourselves. By striving for perfection and owning every failure we will ultimately become better. We can hope to catch excellence. Each person in the company needs to strive for perfection because, as Vince said, “The achievements of an organization are the results of the combined effort of each individual.”