When I attended university 35 years ago, majoring in business administration, the book “In Search of Excellence” written by Tom Peters and Robert H. Waterman, Jr. was often referenced as a case study in best practices.
As a student in the 1980s, the book resonated with me. I was particularly in awe of the innovative concept of seeking input from clients and front line employees for simple yet effective ideas for enhancing the quality of products and services. The concept’s success was further demonstrated in the documentary movie that was making the rounds at that time.
“In Search of Excellence” was probably the book that inspired me most to pursue a career in business. Even as a young man, I was moved when a business (a store, a restaurant or a service) valued quality and worked a little harder to achieve it. This was (and still is) an important value for me and it appealed to me to think that a business career could revolve around the theme of quality.
But when the business world constantly hungers for a competitive edge, management principles are ever-evolving and replaced by new theories and best practices. And as a consumer, I am saddened that quality has been caught in the crossfire.
Some products don’t seem to last as long as they used to, despite the call to be more mindful of our use of landfills. Some stores are ghost towns, where it is impossible to find assistance when I need to ask questions or to get a product from a high shelf. And when I am able to find assistance, on some occasions I am given wrong directions or wrong answers.
I have also noticed some products I buy often getting cheapened by cutting corners on workmanship or incorporating cheaper materials. It is very disappointing.
Also, this past year, I have returned products that performed poorly, I have returned repaired products that didn’t stay repaired, and I have shopped around for second opinions, when presented with service estimates that were out of this world.
Don’t get me wrong, there are some stores, restaurants and services that operate at very reasonable price points and consistently exceed my expectations. They keep me coming back for more and I am not shy in showing my appreciation and gratitude when they consistently raise the bar.
As a consumer who values quality, my resolution for 2019 is to start having chats with retail managers and to send emails to head offices to say enough is enough with products and services that don’t measure up.
When a clerk tells me about a client satisfaction survey while circling a box on my receipt, I have always tuned out, thinking I was too busy to fill them out. But in 2019, I just might take them up on the offer, to sing the store’s praises when it is due, and to offer constructive feedback when it is also due.
Businesses don’t need to run for cover, it isn’t my style to raise a stink in public. When the business isn’t overly busy, I might try to sneak a minute or two of a manager’s time to calmly and diplomatically make a point, when an issue arises.
I think we can all agree that in business there is always room for improvement. But when the search for efficiencies, streamlining and “doing more with less” infringes the boundaries of quality or sustainability, what have we achieved?
I expect more. This gradual erosion of quality is no longer acceptable, I don’t want it to further erode, and it is time for the pendulum to start swinging back.
If we don’t make the effort to point out when we’ve noticed that quality is slipping, how is business going to know, how can they reverse the tide, and how can they improve?
I’d like to propose a new movement of searching for excellence and quality, while still balancing the ever present need for efficiency.
We all work hard for our money, why shouldn’t we ask for more and to expect more? We deserve it!
To all my readers, I send you my very best wishes for a great 2019! Cheers!
Did you enjoy this post? If you haven’t already, please check out the rest of my blog at andrebegin.blog. From there, you can click on the “Follow” button to receive future posts directly in your inbox. Also, don’t be shy, feel free to tell a friend or to share the link.
Sincere thanks for reading!
Have a great day,