Sunday, May 31, 2015

You Just Don't Get a Cookie for That

I'll admit that Chris Rock is one of my favorite comedians. One of my favorite routines is when he talks about people who think they deserve credit for things they're supposed to do. For example, someone might boast, "I take care of  MY kids!" Rock will then follow up with, "YOU'RE SUPPOSED TO TAKE CARE OF YOUR KIDS, YOU DUMB @#@%^&%, YOU DON'T GET A COOKIE FOR THAT!" (Notice I don't include a link to this speech, since this is a family column).

I can't help but think the same thing (without the @#@%^&%) when I ask the question "why do your customers give YOU their money (out of all the others)?"  Before we dig into "lean thinking", I might hear, "we have really good quality!" Hello?!? You don't get a cookie for that! You're supposed to give quality. That's what they expect when they give you a check! Don't imagine for one minute they are expecting defects, then throw a big company-wide party when they get none. It is amazing sometimes to think about the amount of money, energy, sign-offs, waiting, and redundancy spent on something you get no cookie for. (Lean thinking teaches us that quality is designed into our process, and we strive for a condition where any checking afterward is simple, yet still redundant).

"We always ship on time!" Again, void of cookie. If we tell our customers when they can have their stuff, and then do what we told them, I'm pretty sure that's what we're supposed to do. When our customers find themselves in a bind occasionally and we have to help them out by going much faster than we normally do, ONE cookie. When all of my customers feel like they are my ONLY customer, box of cookies.

When a customer calls, how long to get an answer they need, or a call back? How long to get a sample they need? How long to get a quote? It all goes back to satisfying (no cookie) vs. delighting. Satisfying means no cookie and is a good way to become a commodity. Delight them (give them what they can't get elsewhere), and you can grow and prosper. 

Don't "do lean" without truly understanding that it is not about kanban and andon and fancy lines on the floor-it is really a laser-like focus on understanding what your customer sees as value and providing exactly that every single solitary time.

Just for the record, I do take care of MY kids.


  1. As long as you keep them off the pole. :)

  2. By the way I really enjoy reading your column every morning to start my day. That and a cup of coffee prep me for the proper mindset.

  3. How creative would I have to be to work the pole routine into a lean blog, lol. Thank you so much for taking the time to read my drivel William. Have a great weekend and Labor Day