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Clay Siefken
Clay Siefken

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It's OK to Not Be Perfect

Lowe's Customer Support had something to teach me today about perfection.

Installation Manual Photo
Having had a very poor experience recently with a different big box store when trying to purchase a different appliance, my wife and I were a little skeptical about picking up our new dishwasher. With the prior retailer (let's call them "Sub-Optimal Purchase"), our delivery date came and went with a confused local delivery driver calling us to report that he had no information, an hour on hold with multiple transfers, another hour on hold via their chat on their web site. This was a process that ended with no appliance.

With the dishwasher, we also ordered online, and I made the questionable choice of heading to pick up the appliance within 30 minutes of close. In a panic, I called the store. No one picked up. I called again, chose different menus. No answer. Shoot, I figured. Another store that simply doesn't care about their customers. Another poor shopping experience. Sigh.

When I walked in the store, however, nothing could be further from the truth. After one short (socially-distant, mask-wearing) conversation with the knowledgeable staff member, the box was in the back of our vehicle and I was driving home. Done!

I puzzled at the stark contrast between my expectations based on the failed phone calls and the smooth checkout. How could Lowe's do such a dumpy job with picking up the phone and then just absolutely kill it at their front desk game? It's simple. The front desk people were serving the people who were on site before picking up their phones. Boom! Mind blown. They weren't perfect, and that's okay!

At home and at work, I see the same struggle again and again for many people. It's hard, in challenging times, to choose what to fail at. But you will definitely not be perfect at everything. And if you try, you will barely even be good at any of it. What the staff at Lowe's Home Improvement taught me is, to understand what is key - what is the most important thing - and focus on that.

In Lean methodologies, they call the act of spreading oneself too thin, a failure to limit "WIP," or Work In Progress. Indeed, I can't tell you how many times I have failed to deliver anything because I was trying to deliver everything. It is such a basic and beautiful concept, that I have considered getting it tattooed on me.

The Voltaire quote I love along these lines reportedly goes, "Le mieux est l'ennemi du bien," or "the perfect is the enemy of the good."

The dishwasher got installed. It's not bolted down completely yet, and it's not as quiet as the one that broke earlier this week, but we are back in the business of getting dishes washed quickly. It'll do.

So. Go forth, folks, and be good.

Top comments (1)

varunbatrait profile image
Varun Batra

Clay, it looks like I am reading my mind. Idea of delivering everything broke one of the greatest project I worked on. Luckily client gave me a direction and guided me. This saved the investors interest. They kept their commitment. If it went unseen, they might have dropped it.