Foolish Consistency

It’s Foodie Friday so let’s begin with one of my favorite quotes from Emerson – a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.  While Emerson was talking about a fear to change one’s views based on new information, I thought of it in the context of a review of Shake Shack in the NY Times Dining section this week.  The reviewer had mostly good things to say about the chain but his primary complaint was the subhead of the article – Shake Shack struggles with inconsistency.

Ralph Waldo Emerson Deutsch: Ralph Waldo Emers...

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You see, in the food business, consistency is never foolish – the quality of the food served and of the service delivered needs to be at the same standard each and every time.  In this case, some of the burgers were perfect while others were “cooked to the color of wet newsprint, inside and out, and salted so meekly that eating it was as satisfying as hearing a friend talk about a burger his cousin ate.”

What does this have to do with your business?

When I was a teacher (yes, I came out of college trained as a high school English teacher – the kids were more mature than I was at that time), I always became concerned when a student did great work on one assignment and failed on others.  As a supervisor, when an employee’s work was all over the place, I’d sit them down and figure out if it was a training issue or some other problem that made them so inconsistent.

I think a not-so-foolish consistency is exactly what we want in business.  Customers and partners have expectations which are based on every interaction with our company.  We need to meet those expectations in a consistent pattern of excellence.  We might get a pass the first time we don’t meet them but we rarely get a third chance if we screw up a second time.  The world is just too competitive.

Emerson was exactly right when it came to beliefs – and this applies to business beliefs as well. New information may require a course adjustment or a change of opinion about something.  However, when it comes to execution, Emerson couldn’t be more wrong – consistency is the goal and is anything but foolish.

You with me?

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Filed under Helpful Hints, Thinking Aloud

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