"When I was 14-years-old I began working my first job. My buddy and I both got jobs at a neighborhood gas station and we both thought that was the coolest thing. After a few months I thought I was starting to get the hang of it. Rather than being careful and asking a lot of questions, I was pretty cocky, certain I knew everything I needed to know about anything. One day while taking my break I heard a truck pull up to the pumps. I came running back to see a black Ford F-250 truck waiting to be helped. So I hurried up and asked the driver, 'What can I help you with?' 'Fill it up' the driver said and then she ran inside before I could ask, 'Regular or premium?' I was in a hurry to be helpful and she was in a hurry to get inside.
"I glanced around quickly and noticed her truck didn't have any obvious diesel or regular labels on it. So I filled the tank with regular. About the time the pump clicked off, signifying a full tank, she came running back outside freaking out because I filled her pickup with the wrong kind of fuel! Her truck was adiesel after all. Luckily my boss had a fuel siphon pump and we were able to remove the regular fuel and put in the correct diesel so it wasn't a huge deal.
"The lesson I learned from this experience is to ask questions and wait for answers, clarify before proceeding anytime there is the possibility that the customer may have a different choice in mind. Never assume I know what the customer wants without asking.
"The action I call you to take is be sure you know the answers to these six clarifying questions before you proceed:
Who? What? How? Why?
"The benefit you will gain is you will save face, time, and money. You will be a hero with and for your customers."
Another lesson we can learn from this wonderful, warm story is the importance of labels. Turbo's work in all kinds of companies (paper mills, saw mills, distribution centers, medical clinics, construction companies) continues to show that there is an expectation that "we all know" - that "everyone knows."
I challenge you to look around your operation. What could be properly labelled with more specific, descriptive, appropriate nouns? This challenge applies to your computer files, filing cabinets, all records, and tool locations. Think of it this way, if you are called away tomorrow, will everyone be able to find everything needed to keep your enterprise moving at rocket speeds?
ask questions, wait for answers, clarify before proceeding
—Larry W. Dennis, Sr. President Turbo Leadership Systems