Spilling Tea–Why Your Business May Be Failing

Years ago the word Lubyanka was enough to bring normal Russians to their knees in terror.  Lubyanka is known best for being the headquarters of the Soviet secret police, then called the KGB.  The basement of Lubyanka housed a prison which had one hundred and eleven cells, cells that were used to hold and interrogate political prisoners during Russia’s purge.

Two times each day the prisoners were given tea.  A prisoner in each cell would place a teapot outside the cell. Another prisoner, carrying a bucket filled with tea, would pour tea from the bucket into the teapot.

Tea spilled on to the floor.  The prisoner would clean the spilt tea with a rag.

Lubyanka’s prison operated for twenty-seven years.  Tea was served to the one hundred and eleven cells and spilled in front of each cell twice a day, seven hundred and thirty times a year per cell.

Two million one hundred eighty-eight thousand spills during those twenty-seven years.  The same number of cleanups.

Someone somewhere made the decision that it was easier or cheaper to spill and clean the tea 2,188,000 times than it was to use buckets with spouts on them.

What are the buckets in your company?  What dumb, wasteful, redundant activities and processes have been left unchanged?

The most obvious one for most companies is customer care.

It is easier to take 2,188,000 calls each year about a given problem than it is to fix the problem.

And do you know where the fallacy in the argument is?  The fallacy comes from the erroneous belief that by having a call center, by answering calls you are actually providing your customers a service.

You are not.  All you are doing is wiping up spilt tea.

 

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