Afspraak is afspraak

Why be awesome when you can be mediocre ?

This is the Reflection I was hoping to share this weekend (and am happy that I managed it ).

I had more than enough time to think about what I wanted to share last night , courtesy of restless legs syndrome and spasms ! I wasn’t too sure about typing today , one finger typing rocks !!!. Here goes.

It’s been a week of sorts , the Optimist would say “two steps forward , one step back”, the Pessimist “one step forward…two steps back”

As a DOCR’S cardholding member I say movement is movement – it could well be “one step forward , one step sideways ”, that’s still all relative  and in the greater scheme of things we could say we are dancing and dancing makes one happy ? I digress however.

I find that a lot lately. Easily explained however – the DMT ( Disease Modifying Treatment) has caused damage to my kidneys – no improvement since December ’18 next assessment is in March so until then I can consult on all the homeopathic remedies available ( yes I digress)

The neurologist is now concerned (me too !!) – the fact that these chemicals are no longer in my system means the risk of a relapse is increasing. Of course that is largely academic as the side effects of the kidney damage means that my mobility is largely impaired further, along with the associated infections and discomfort. Nevertheless – it could always be worse.

Back to the theme for this “late edition” Saturday Reflection.

I’ve had quite some interactions this week of people sharing their frustrations with me about things simply “not going the way it was promised”. I had that too.

I have a great friend, a former soldier, a man of honor and integrity who shared a saying “ a father is only as happy as his least unhappy child” , well I am not happy then (despite the dancing).

One of my daughters requires support that I cannot give her and as a parent that is a terrible thing to have to admit to and endure.

Fortunately we have a well-established system in the Netherlands. Systems are good – they promise to follow a process. Process is good , it gives confidence and a direction , yes ? At least in principle. But what happens when there is a hiccup or a proverbial “spanner in the works ?”

Well, after 5 weeks following the process the frustration had built up to a crescendo and this week it inevitably exploded. After countless emails and calls to the service providers “promising” help I was played the bureaucratic card.

“Due to our privacy policy we cannot answer your question”.

Needless to say this ticks all the boxes for me in a bad way – after 5 weeks of feedback (one sided) and communication a simple excuse. Can that be accepted without any retort – Hell no !

There is enough accountability to pass around, I am responsible too, I facilitated the process although I was not the patient. (I did communicate this every time and got feedback (acknowledgement at least) that the “system” was running.  Understandable perhaps but truth be told during the countless calls before the Policy card I was told that there was a new operating system in place since 01.01.2019 and that they were facing a backlog inputting requests.

My immediate solution thinking brain jumps to Project Management 101, was there a plan, was there a risk assessment, contingency plans, a workaround perhaps , someone to “own the problem”  ? I guess not. But there is at least a Policy for those difficult customers.

Jumping to what is hopefully the end of the countless calls is that awareness has been escalated within the system and hopefully something will happen.

This got me to thinking …the purpose of this rather lengthy introduction, how do we aspire to great things when it is so easy to accept mediocrity ?

I guess for me that never has been a consideration, I have been fortunate to have been cursed with a gene that drives me to take responsibility when given and deliver on promises made. I guess this is not evident everywhere and we should not expect everyone to feel the same way – or should we ? Surely part of having integrity is to deliver on promises made ?

I cannot pass up the opportunity to share  (who else but Seth Godin’s !) the following reflection on mediocrity albeit in a corporate environment.

Three kinds of corporate mediocrity

Uncaring mediocrity, in which employees have given up trying to make things better
Focused mediocrity, in which the organization is intentionally average
Accidental mediocrity, in which people don’t even realize that they’re not delivering excellence

Uncaring mediocrity is the most common form, and it often accompanies scale. It’s the accidental outcome that comes from trying to emulate an organization that’s focused on its mediocrity.

The mechanization and industrialization of cottage industries (like hotels, restaurants and healthcare) has led to a convenient homogenization for many. It means you can travel around the world and find better than decent accommodations and safe food, all at a fair price.

But it also means that most of the people working in these entities are treated like interchangeable cogs. They have no say at all about how things are done (or at least feel that way) and so they’ve emotionally checked out. It’s easier that way.

The products and services revert to the mean, sucking the humanity out of not just the people who work there, but from the interactions the customers have as well.

If you have a lousy meal at a real restaurant, the owner could hear from you and, it’s likely, not only fix it, but get back to you. Have a lousy experience with a Host, a Taco Bell, or a JW Marriott, though, and the odds are that the individual who reads your review has never even visited the place you’re talking about, and certainly doesn’t care enough to do anything about it.

One of the promises of the worldwide behemoth corporation was that reliability and quality was assured. The downside is that the chances that an internal insurgent can make things better go down.

As we see so many organizations seek to emulate the scale, influence and profits of the Fortune 100, it’s worth remembering that uncaring mediocrity shouldn’t be a north star.

Focused mediocrity is different. It’s intentional. It’s the act of chasing the banal, so that the largest possible number of people will be satisfied enough not to complain. This is the sieve of deliverability and the sword of mass.

The third kind of mediocrity happens when someone is uninformed. When they’re too busy or too lazy to pay attention to the taste of those they seek to serve or they don’t care enough to deliver it with quality and humanity.

At least have the guts to be mediocre on purpose.

Well, I’m surprised that I managed this even if it’s taken a few hours !!!

Of course the initial question remains unanswered – I guess it’s the people in the end who decide to either deliver …or not !

In the Netherlands we have a saying “Afspraak is Afspraak”

Published by Daniel Taylor

MS Warrior with an affinity for 80's New Wave music and deep philosophical ramblings...and coffee , definitely coffee

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