Friday, September 15, 2017

Old Joke Contains A Serious Business Lesson

There is the old joke about the plumber who gets called to fix a water heater:

He listens to the heater for a few seconds, taps it with his hammer, and it starts working!

The plumber then gives an $80 bill to the homeowner, who then complains that the plumber didn't do anything.

The plumber then writes up an invoice and gives it to the homeowner:

          $1 to hammer the heater

          $79 for knowing where to hit

Interestingly, this joke actually contains an important business lesson.  Business should be about generating results for customers, not in methodology or outputs.

In other words, the value to the homeowner is to get the heater working.  The value doesn't depend on   what the plumber actually did or how hard he worked.  In fact, getting it fixed quickly is more valuable for the homeowner.

Yet, in our society, we value hard work.  Even worse, we (the service provider) feel that, unless we generate enough work, we haven't given value to the client—even if they are happy with the results.  We are our own worst enemy!

In the joke, the plumber was pressured to generate a simple invoice. But, in the real world, many companies would go further, and, under self-pressure, add even more unnecessary deliverables such as power points, documents, etc.

If your company wants to be productive, agile, and innovative—in other words, strategic simplicity℠ —then it should focus on generating results, and resist the urge to justify value through busy work.