October  2018     Edition 141
Getting it right the first time !
We’ve all had an experience like this;  You hire someone to paint or fix something or you buy something online, and there’s an error, a mistake,  the wrong color, it doesn’t work, or they sent the wrong item.  You’re frustrated and proclaim … “how come they just can’t get it right the first time!”

There are a few factors that have to be considered in order to “get it right the first time”. 

We first have to define what we mean by “right”.   Getting it “right”generally means, meeting the expectation.   It doesn’t have to be perfect, nor without faults, it just has to meet, or exceed, the expectation of the recipient.  When you buy a new TV you expect it to work.  When a plumber installs a new washing machine you expect it not to leak.  When your customer subscribes to your service, they expect the service to be work as advertised.  When you install a software application, you expect it to work … sometimes with a glitch or two, but able to accomplish the task that you purchased it to do.

The cost of not getting it “right” can be huge.    It might take you only 5 minutes to buy sunglasses online, but if the wrong glasses are shipped, you’ll have to get a return authorization, repack the glasses in the box, go to UPS to drop it off, and now wait for a re-delivery.   That 5 minutes turns into an hour just to return something, and days waiting for the replacement.   Then there’s the cost on the supplier side; restocking, or losing the merchandise all together.   Some mistakes cost a lot more than just time.   If you’re in the business of repairing brake systems on cars, and you don’t get it right the first time it could mean that someone is going to get injured, possibly die.  

So why are there so many redo’s, returns, and do overs, all resulting in wasted time, frustration, costs, lost customers, disappointments,  and even injuries and fatalities.

Generally, we design things to work the way they are supposed to work, and when something goes wrong, we go into fix it mode.  After the crises passes we sometimes look at what went wrong and how we prevent that mishap from occurring again.  We do root cause analysis, yielding perhaps a redesign of a process, or product.  

We can’t anticipate everything, so we need to add another element to reduce this reactionary method and get it right the first time.  The answer to this is pretty straightforward.  

Simply stated, we don’t get it right the first time because we don’t define what “right” is, or build it into the process to achieve it.   We need to ask the question, “what do we have to do so that we can get it right the first time?”, and we need to ask that question at the beginning, during the implementation and again at the end.

We need to expect that things fail, that humans error, that components break, that the unforeseen happens, and build into the process the appropriate check stops, quality controls, feedback and support mechanisms, so that when these bumps in the road occur, our processes and methodology already has incorporated a way to catch them before the recipient of the service is disappointed.  

Lastly, and perhaps most important, we need to actually care about getting it right the first time.  This is a culture thing.   It goes beyond dollars and cents, lost customers, higher profits.  We need a culture, from leadership to individuals who actually care about getting it done “right”.  With this as a culture, getting it right will be just a natural way things are done.

Going back to defining what “getting it right the first time means”. For a TV manufacturer it might be, “99.9%” of the time, everything will work right.   The TV manufacturer might be of a mind, that 1 out of a thousand customers will get disappointed and that’s OK.   But if you’re a plumber, and your livelihood depends upon referrals and internet reviews, you never, never, NEVER, want something you installed to leak the very first time your customer turns on the faucet.  When you visit a doctor, and give them your insurance card, ID, fill out all these forms, you expect them to bill the insurance company and do things properly.  Yet, my guess, is that most of the readers of this post have had to call the doctors billing office, perhaps your insurance company, because someone along the way didn’t do something right the first time.   The systems and processes, and culture, were not geared around catching those mistakes.

The Takeaway:  Getting it right the first time means (a) be very clear on what “right” is,  why you set “right” at that level, it’s value, how it affects customers, etc.  (b) ask what has to be done to build into the product, the process, the service to achieve that level of “right”, and (c) very important .. having a culture that cares about getting it right the first time.

If you like this edition,

click here to get a Free Subscription to The Headscratcher Post.

  A monthly post with tips and techniques about problem solving, creativity, innovation and critical thinking.

Think Smarter Book Image

Check out our Workshops

• Critical Thinking for Problem Solving and Decision Making (Core, Core+Advanced)
• Advanced Critical Thinking and Innovation
• Advanced Critical Thinking and Decision Making
• Critical Thinking for Supervisors, Managers and Leaders

Visit us at www.headscratchers.com

If you're not already a subscriber to The HeadScratcher Post,
Signup Here

Previous versions of The HeadScratcher Post

Critical Thinking Techniques for Problem Solving, Decision Making, Innovation and Leadership.
Our Mission;

To help people become better HeadScratchers! We teach critical thinking techniques to managers, leaders and individuals resulting in the improved performance of an individual and organization.