If It’s Not Good Enough for You, Why Is It Good Enough for Your Customers?

POST DATE Dec 16, 2016

AUTHOR Udo Jahn

Some of the decision making that I see going on in this industry is simply amazing. A lot of it involves the words, “Good enough!” I keep hearing those words over and over. It seems to have become a catchphrase in government, industry and many other sectors, replacing previous phrases like “Good thinking”, “Good decision”, or “Good riddance.” Those terms all portray the feeling that care and attention is being paid to something. That someone, somewhere, making a decision was putting real thought into it.

Now I get the feeling that the “good enough” mentality has replaced all of this. To me, “good enough” means that something meets the absolute bare minimum standard, or even worse, is below that standard. Either way, it means nothing good will come of it. 

What makes this mentality even worse is that in many cases the people who adopt it would not accept it for themselves, but they have no problem forcing it on others. There are examples of this every day in business: companies announcing layoffs so that they can salvage just a bit more profit. Yes, some companies really do need to lay off staff when they are facing a serious crisis like bankruptcy. These things happen and are always a last resort for companies who are truly committed to making informed decisions. But laying off employees to move production overseas, when you aren’t facing bankruptcy, is an example of a “good enough” decision: operating at the bare minimum of decency, or below it.

I need to shake that sinister thought and get back on track… Let’s look at some of the things I’ve seen in my industry lately.

In the machining industry, I’ve seen many equipment purchases made on the “good enough” scale. These pieces of equipment are usually barely functional. By that I mean, they’re brand new, shiny and sparkling off the production line and in no way defective, but they’re barely functional in terms of what they can produce. They are just good enough to make components but beyond that, useless.

This sort of equipment is usually bought and sold on price alone, because many salespeople are only capable of selling on price and not actually educating their customers about what will best solve their problems, regardless of price, and why the value of a problem solved is worth paying the price for it. When I say that salespeople “sell on price”, I mean that they’re trying to get the customer the bare minimum, or “good enough”, solution for the cheapest possible price.

What always ends up happening in these situations is the customer is happy at first with the price point, then puts the equipment in production and becomes unhappy. “Well,” they think, “this isn’t what I wanted.”

What’s “good enough” in the short term is often a long-term disaster.

I know you’ve heard it all before: quality over price. It seems like for a lot of people that logic has sunk in for the car they drive, but not the decisions they make about purchasing for their business. If you wouldn’t accept “good enough” for yourself and your car, why would you accept it for your business, which affects not only you, but all your employees, vendors and customers? I guess you must be the kind of person who thinks dents on a new car are acceptable, and also probably the type that likes to clap when the airplane lands.

Enough about machining, let’s move on to the lumber industry. You’ve probably read a few of my articles written about sawguides and sawmills, which I publish regularly on SawguidesDirect.com. These sawguides, they’re just pieces of steel and aluminum, right? No big deal.

There are “good enough” sawguides out there in spades. You can buy really inexpensive ones. They’re just not accurate, and don’t have the right coating on them. They’re also not well thought out to be the proper size to make your equipment run efficiently. And their design, that also isn’t thought out properly. But they technically work, if you’re a fan of things that operate at a barely acceptable level. 

In the forestry industry, like machining, there are many salespeople who only sell on price. “Good enough” runs the day. How many ruins of closed sawmills are out there because of these “good enough decisions”? Those mills accepted the bare minimum and now they’re no longer around.

Equipment in machining and sawguides in forestry are just two examples of the good enough mentality that permeates almost every industry out there. No one is immune to this way of thinking. The only way to stand out, and stand up for your business, is to reject it and make your decisions with care, facts and a long-term risk analysis. You know, using your brain. I know, I’m really reinventing the wheel over here by saying that.

I know many of you are working for organizations that are calling “good enough” the new normal. It’s just a matter of time before the companies operating this way will no longer exist. In the short term, things seem great, but these fool-hearted decisions will catch up with them eventually. It’s a shame. 

Let’s bring logic back to corporate decision making. If you ever find yourself thinking “good enough” when you’re making a decision, that should be a huge red flag in your mind to stop and think through the issue properly.

It’s time for change. Unfortunately for some organizations, good enough will always prevail over reason.

What’s an example of a “good enough decision” you’ve witnessed in your industry? Let me know in the comments.

Author: Udo Jahn

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