domingo, 25 de diciembre de 2016


(La versión en español se encuentra a continuación de esta; The Spanish version can be found below)

A few years ago, in a USA business school, there was a class studing  the efficiency and excellence of high-performance teams, and the students were asked to provide relevant examples to learn from. One of the students, Charly Believer, proposed Santa Claus. His classmates and the professor took it as a joke and laughed, but Charly was serious, and insisted with a forceful argument that after the initial disbelief, no one could refute: Is there anyone more efficient than he? Anyone who performs such a high-performance task with more efficiency and excellence than he? The eminent professor, Dr. Wastingtime, thought it would be a waste of time, but he decided to give Charly a chance, and then asked him to investigate so exceptional character and present his findings two months later, just before Christmas.

Charly did not expect such a committed assignment, "a hot potato", and he was perplexed. Investigate about Santa Claus? Where? In Internet? He started there, but he only found the typical things: the photos, the names of his reindeers, the most recent tradition ... Nothing that allowed him to delve into the keys to his efficiency and excellence. He decided to go to the oldest libraries, and there he searched even the most dusty documents, but no trace of the charismatic Santa Claus. He was lost; and he lamented a thousand times that he had dared to open his mouth. For in the end, he concluded, Father Christmas was no more than a fictional character, an invention, and it was clear that Dr. Wastingtime had only accepted his daring to give him an humility lesson.

In early December, about to throw in the towel, Charly went for a walk, and in the lobby of a large mall saw one of those Santa imitators talking to some children who, after waiting  in a long line, loaded with that so special excitement that was reflected in their faces, dared to ask for their gifts. Seeing them, he remembered that wonderful emotion he had also had as a child, and thought it was very beautiful to believe, and that for Santa Claus there would be nothing more gratifying than meeting the expectations of all those children who believed in him.

Suddenly, without knowing how, he saw himself close to that fake Father Christmas and he noticed that he was looking in his direction and calling someone. He looked back, convinced that it was not about him, but there was no one else there, and the gesture of the man in red and false beard left no doubt: he called him. Charly approached; and to his surprise, the man took out of his clothes some papers and gave them to him.

--- Take Charly, this is for you.

He said no more. He turned to the next child, who was already waiting for him on his knees, and continued his task.

Charly was stunned and reacted slowly. Or at least this is what he perceived. And although curiosity caught him, he did not dare to check those mysterious papers until he arrived home. Once there ... Oh! An old scroll, handwritten, told a fascinating story that captivated him. As it said, at Christmas in 1412, in a small village in present-day Finland, Santa's gifts did not reach those who requested them, and of course this was a great disappointment, especially for children. The scandalous failure provoked harsh criticism of Santa Claus, and not only in that samall place, but throughout the kingdom. Among other reproaches, he was accused of neglecting his commitments to the locals to pay more attention to the orders that increasingly came from abroad, and it was even questioned whether they should continue to trust him or find another supplier that would serve them better.

--- But that is not possible --- some said --- He is the Father of Christmas. How are we going to replace it?

--- Nobody is irreplaceable --- pointed the most critical --- If he does not do his job well, we will have to replace him.

--- Well, actually, it has only been a little carelessness in an almost insignificant village --- argued one who wanted to defend him.

--- A little neglect in a village almost insignificant? No one is insignificant --- said one of the most critical --- Santa Claus has to perform at a very top level and serve all of us. This is what we demand on him.  It starts with a little oversight, but if we do not give it importance, next year the failure will be bigger, and so everytime worse.

Santa Claus was embarrassed. The fault was very serious and there was no excuse. But it was done; and now, in addition to apologizing and correcting it as much as possible (he asked for the help of the Three Wise Men from the East; nobody knew them there, but that year, at the beginning of January, they gave him a hand), the important thing was to analyze what had happened in order to learn from that and prevent it to happen again. Even more, it would be wise to take advantage of this big mistake as an opportunity to improve procedures and being able to perform better than before. This is what he had always done. He remembered, as an example, that approximately in the year 1100, a child who had asked for a sword, received a real one and the poor boy cut off a hand. Thankfully, thanks to his exceptional contacts with the One above, he managed the boy not to lose it, but what a blunder! He learned then that all orders had to be reviewed better and that it was important to take into account the specific needs of each customer. It was not a question of giving anything more or less similar to what was asked for, but it was necessary to offer customized services so that each one was truly satisfied. And so it was done from then on.

Now, applying that same philosophy of learning from mistakes, he summoned his team to analyze what had happened to that little village in which they had failed.

--- It is their fault --- one of his lieutenants said --- They sent the letters late, out of time, and all the orders were ready.

--- It is clear that if they send the letters late, that forces us to do an extra effort and our task is more difficult --- reacted Santa Claus --- Do you think that justifies that we don´t do our job well?

--- Well, the truth is that we have performed quite well. The vast majority have received their gifts, have not they? --- pointed out another --- The percentage of well done work has been more than 99%. It's to be satisfied, isn´t it?
--- Aha; Then you think we should be satisfied with 99% success --- stressed Santa Claus --- What if it was 95%? What would you say?

--- Well, it's still a very high percentage, right? - said the same that had contributed the data. Others who were present nodded.

--- Aha; Then we still have room to go wrong, don´t we? --- pointed out Father Christmas --- This year we have disappointed children who trusted us, and they are very sad. We have lost credibility. But with such a favorable statistic, next year we will still have room to disappoint many other children, and yet we will celebrate it as a great success. Is it so?

--- Well…

--- And the following year we could even have more room for failure, because 90% of success is not so bad, right? --- continued Santa --- What is 10% of disappointed children who will stop believing in us, if we satisfy the 90%?

--- But… if they don´t meet the deadlines ... --- insisted the one who spoke first.

--- Agree. If they don´t meet the deadlines we have it more difficult --- recognized Santa Claus --- What can we do then? Do we resign ourselves? Do we blame them and thus justify ourselves? Or do we look for a solution?

Nobody answered. But Santa Claus perceived that his argument had touched them deeply, and then continued:

--- What do you think if instead of complaining, we think what we can do to prevent this problem and, if it arises, solve it?

Charly spent the whole night reading these valuable documents and pondering. He realized that excellence is incompatible with conformism; that although things are done well, there is room for improvement;  and, above all, that if you stop growing, every time you will make it a little worse. He also learned that no matter how broad are the horizons incorporating new customers, you should never neglect those who already are, since their fidelity is not a blank check, but must be fed continuously with the best services. He also concluded that efficiency has to do with focusing on what depends on oneself rather than on complaining, and also with getting better organized to perform more and to prevent and solve problems that delay or impede the achievement of goals. He also understood that you can not despise any customers, that they are all important, and that credibility and trust are basic elements, so bad service can have serious consequences.

Watching how Santa led his team, it was very clear for Charly that a good director can not impose, but argue with ability to convince; and in addition, he thought, he must be open-minded to ask, receive, and implant ideas from his subordinates, as well as being able to involve them in decision-making, because only in this way will they give the best of themselves. And of course, he understood that mistakes are great opportunities to improve and advance further.

December 20 was D-day, and as expected, no one missed the class. Dr. Wastingtime gave the floor to Charly with an ironic tone that the other students seconded with light laughter. It was the preamble of the big laughter that everyone expected from the foreseeable ridicule. But in the thirty minutes of his presentation, without any technological support, Charly surprised them with their unanswerable explanations. Everyone came out convinced that Santa Claus was an excellent example of efficiency and excellence, and they took good note of the powerful lessons that could be deduced from the modus operandi of such a great personage.

Then, after the effusive congratulations to Charly, as it was the last day of class before Christmas, everyone went to eat at a restaurant where, what a coincidence! the waiters were dressed like Santa Claus. Fortunately they had reserved a table, because the dining room was crowded and the waiting list was endless. Already seated, they immediately noticed the incredible spectacle of the waiters; and not for the costumes, but for their admirable efficiency working as a team and the excellence of their performance. That was pure high performance! When one of them approached the table, Professor Wastingtime addressed him:

--- We are observing how you work and it is fantastic to see how you take care of every detail with each of the clients. Congratulations!

--- Well, in such a limited space of time, we have to give a good service to everyone. That is our job --- replied the waiter --- What would happen if with the excuse that there are many customers who want to be served almost at the same time, we only serve 95% of them well? What would you say if you were in the remaining 5%?

Charly looked at the waiter and caught the wink of complicity that he did to him. Then, the man left and they never saw him again. Throughout the meal, Dr. Wastingtime wanted to continue this conversation and repeatedly asked for him, but none of those who approached was that waiter and no one could identify him. Inexplicably, he had evaporated, and there nobody knew him: as if he had never been. No one understood what had happened. Except Charly, of course.

Merry Christmas! Ho Ho Ho!

Chema Buceta


No hay comentarios:

Publicar un comentario