6 May 2015

“Progress is impossible without change” – I think it was George Bernard Shaw who first said these words, and whilst it’s a statement I agree with, I think it comes with a caveat.

Two people I'd never change!

Two people I’d never change

All too often people change things about their life or business that simply didn’t need changing. At UKFast, we call this phenomenon the ‘Dr Who‘ effect, and it happens when someone decides, for no real reason at all, to stop doing something that has been working very effectively.

I’m willing to bet it happens in almost every business across the UK and – in fact – I’m worried it will happen this week with the General Election. We’ve noticed the Dr Who effect a few times in UKFast’s history, but thankfully have taken stock of things quickly enough to stop it in its tracks.

To give an example; if you look at Timpson’s, they value the opinions of people who work in their company so much and they take their culture so seriously that if you go in for an interview or a visit, the receptionist will have a little sheet of paper with about twenty different types of faces on. These range from Mr grumpy and Ms Smiley to Mr Rude, and whoever is doing the interview will go round at the end of the day and collect them, as the receptionist will have circled the face of each person as they arrived.

It’s something we used to do ourselves and we placed a lot of value on it, as some people appeared one way to the interviewer, but treated whoever was behind reception in a different manner. For us, this is an indicator that someone isn’t right for us. We use a similar method now, as we already have the proof of concept, but I’d never want to let that kind of thing slide.

In many ways, I suppose it’s easier to keep an eye on the things you do well when you’re smaller. In the very early days, it was just Gail and I behind the helm and when somebody came in she’d ask if they wanted a drink. On one occasion, someone who’d visited us before came in and she turned up with a cup of coffee. When he thanked her and asked for two sugars, she replied, “I’ve already put them in”. She actually used to write people’s tea and coffee choices down on a clipboard in the kitchen, which is such a lovely touch.

Giving this extra layer of attention and care is certainly something our events and hospitality teams do, as it’s in very much their nature, but it’s still an important example of how key the small details are in making up the bigger picture. As a business, being adaptable is an advantage, but change for change’s sake is rarely a good thing. Beware the Dr Who effect.

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