As A Last Resort…Once More!

Some time ago I mentioned that human beings will as a last resort, having exhausted every other contrivance, dodge or option,  possibly at last ‘consider’ communicating!

I recently booked into a bastion of fine dining in New York City, for my wife and I, and a special guest. I love the place, so I’m holding off on naming it. Also, because they’re not unique in this disability…not by a long shot.

We had spoken to the Manager. A special menu with wine pairings had been ordered. Numerous communications had gone back and forth to fine tune all the arrangements. The day before the planned dinner,  we got the typical call asking us to “reconfirm” our booking. I asked a colleague to remind the Manager he knew full well we were coming and to make sure everything was in order.

The day of the dinner, another message was left on my voice mail! “Please call us as soon as possible, before noon, to confirm this booking.” Ye gads! How much reassurance did they need? Surely after meticulously aligning on the menu and wine choices, it would be more than quixotic to just not show up. And we had called the Manager again the day before!

Then the penny dropped. My colleague said the Manager probably hadn’t told reservations! The Manager apparently has no idea that reservations staff are maniacally drilled to call, no matter what. To relieve them of their palpitations, I called again. They confirmed the booking but had no idea we had a “special menu”. It would have been nice if they had known and without my asking had said casually, “Of course we’re looking forward to welcoming you, the special menu and wine pairing are all in order.” Another black hole of information! I had to cough up the name of the specific manager so they could ensure there was no further misunderstanding. Even then, the gentleman said, “If there’s a problem, I’ll call you back.”  How reassuring! On the day itself, if there’s a problem…”

I recalled that at another fabled restaurant, I again had made arrangements directly with the Manager who knows us well. Despite that, there were a number of zealous, persistent, unrelenting calls insisting we call and confirm, even though the Manager and I had exchanged emails about the occasion just a few hours back!  So this isn’t an isolated anomaly. It’s an epidemic!

And it’s endemic to organizations at large, not just restaurants. Systems are set up and administered, absent any common sense. Information is received in one location and not shared elsewhere, so that colleagues cannot offer a seamless service rather than pestering the same person to pledge once more their resolute intention to appear!

During the heydey of the Total Quality movement, and then the Business Process Re-engineering movement, and frankly every day since then, gurus and researchers alike continue to report that one of the greatest sources of waste in organizations is interdepartmental conflict.  Dig deeper, and an alarming percentage of that just comes down to inadequate sharing of information, poor consultation between functions, no attempt to co-create rather than to ‘territorialize’ things. Why? It’s easier to hoard than to share. It’s easier to believe that if I know, others can find out.  It is organizational service narcissism.

Do everyone a favor. We have IT, therefore it’s potentially easier than ever to share information. If not, we’re just automating stupidity and inefficiency…and we can now perpetrate THOSE at the speed of light! So let people know what you learn that is of relevance, and make sure there’s a feedback loop from the leader to those on the front line.

Communicate avidly and proactively (rather than reactively and truculently) with those who are a critical part of the value and experience you deliver…as a first instinct, rather than as a last resort. Do that consistently, astutely, insightfully, rather than hanging out in your own functional bunker.  Make that the way things happen in your business and then watch out for the avalanche of delighted, profitable business that increasingly comes your way!