Facing the Challenge
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Never Let a Challenge Influence Quality

I think we can all agree that the arrival of COVID-19 set the world on its ear.  While we had hoped by now, the world would have returned to pre-COVID standards, that’s not the case.  Some things are getting better, and other issues are just now making themselves known.

There are supply chain issues, employment challenges, inflation, and more.  Each of these is a significant contributor to our current quality of life.  And each has presented its own challenge – some we’ve seen before, but others are new.

But we don’t need to just accept them as the new normal (whatever that is) – and resign ourselves to lower standards.  Like any challenge, we can use them as a motivation or an excuse.

The Challenge to Quality

Level of quality is something that seems to be falling victim to these new challenges.  It seems that many individuals and companies are producing (or accepting) lower standards because “that’s just the way things are these days.” But it doesn’t have to be.

Let’s look at things from a business perspective.  Here are two examples where accepting lesser quality presents two serious issues for any organization:

  • Re-work – When we reduce our own quality standards, we risk delivering a flawed product. Fixing those things that never should have been broken in the first place requires time and expense to correct.  Never mind the opportunity cost you’re incurring by applying resources to re-work that could have been used for something else.
  • Customer Experience – “You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression!” Lessoning quality in your product, delivery, or any aspect of your customer’s experience can have fatal consequences to your business. Lesser quality anywhere in the process can easily make customers think you don’t care about them.  As a result, they are more likely to take their future business elsewhere – and, in this digital age, share their experience online, damaging your reputation and brand – and future sales.

Both of these issues are absolutely avoidable.  It is critical that we don’t let our standards slip – even when so much around us seems to be beyond our control.

Respond to the Challenge

So, the goal here is not to make excuses for today’s challenges and just settle for less.  Rather, we need to be intentional and use these as an opportunity to be better.  An excellent book by Mark Sanborn called “The Fred Factor: How Passion in Your Work and Life Can Turn the Ordinary into the Extraordinary” demonstrates this beautifully.

The first place we need to look for maintaining quality and an excellent customer experience is with ourselves.  Figuring out in today’s challenging times how we can cope and do better with what we have available is the mission.

Fit the Square Peg in the Round Hole

I’ve always appreciated that scene in the movie Apollo 13 when they’re dealing with a filter problem.  The team walks into a room with a box of parts and equipment, dumps it all out on the table, announces the issue, and says this is what we have to work with – and they figure it out.

Things may never return to what was our previous Normal.  But today’s issues and challenges don’t need to change our standards.  We can figure out how to fit the square peg in the round hole – sometimes revealing new opportunities or benefits along the way.

Quality begins with ourselves, and we reflect it every day – internally with our teams and externally with our customers.  Never settle for less than your best!