There’s a reason penguins don’t play the viola—maybe that’s why they don’t have a home page. I used to try to approach things with an open mind, but people kept trying to put things like that in it. Did you ever notice that it’s difficult to encourage people to think outside the box especially if you haven’t seen evidence that the people inside the box are thinking? I’m sure there are those who think these ideas are mere snake oil, but who among you has ever seen a rusty snake?
There is often an inverse relation between the relevance of a document and its brevity. Roemer’s Law 17: the value of a patient user manual used in your call centers is approximately equal to the square root of the number of chapters. (That bit of insight is the equivalent of 4.6 raiments, where one raiment has been universally established as the amount of consulting insight needed to awe a frog for one hour.)
How many different patient user manuals are there in your patient call center? How many pages do those manuals occupy? I think user manuals are so long because call center managers believe busy people are effective people. People who aren’t busy all the time might start to think, and what good has ever come from that?
The United States Constitution is about 9,000 words—that’s about thirty pages. What is it about the interactions between patients and call center reps that requires more verbiage than the amount needed to keep 350,000,000 people living in prosperity and at peace with one another for more than 220 years?
For some people, work takes place in the fast lane. For me, it often takes place in oncoming traffic. To conclude, let’s agree to quit viewing things from the dark side of the sun. Sometimes instead of complaining about the darkness, it’s better to ignite a flame. The next time you are at your desk, open the user manuals, take out all the pages, and replace them with this one rule:
DO WHATEVER IT TAKES TO SOLVE THE PATIENT’S PROBLEM.
I guarantee that will improve performance. Some executives argue that the chances of something so patently absurd actually being true are a million to one. But consultants have calculated that million-to-one chances crop up nine times out of ten. It’s also fair to state that all mushrooms are edible, however it’s equally fair to state that some mushrooms aren’t edible more than once.
To those who want to prove me wrong, go ahead. Destroy the fabric of the universe, then call me.