Monday, October 24, 2011

Climb Out of Mistaken Assumptions

The 2011 Bathroom Blogfest theme is “Climbing Out.” As last year, I’m flush with excitement about participating. The proximity to Oktoberfest makes it an absolutely festive occasion. First you go to the biergarten, later you got to go. To Bathroom Blogfest postings, I mean.
     Each blogger participant is to write from his/her interpretation of “climbing out.” I’ve selected a story that has reminded me to move above mistaken assumptions.
     You see, I assumed that if you found yourself using the same external consultant repeatedly to train staff, you should have that consultant teach a few of your people how to do the training themselves. This saves you money.
     Therefore, when a client kept calling me back to train his staff, I thought I might help by selecting a few people I could teach to do the training tasks, with me providing periodic updates. I shared my views a number of times with the company president. Each time I would talk with him, he’d listen courteously. Then three months later, the company would call me again to arrange for me to fly out there, but never to train the trainers.
     Finally, I decided to make a stronger case. The president listened, and then, in a wonderful classic Texas drawl, launched his reply.
     “You’ve been working with us for some time now, Bruce. You’ve seen how the company has grown. We have more and more people, more and more offices for those people, more and more buildings for those offices.
     “And you may not have thought about it, Bruce, but when you have all those people, all those offices, all those buildings, well, you need to have a lot of men’s rooms and women’s rooms.”
     At this point, I’m wondering where this guy is going. Next came the rest:
     “And when you have all those toilets, Bruce, some of them will get stuffed up real bad. I mean, it’s a matter of the odds. More toilets, more badly stuffed-up toilets.
     “Whenever it happens, well, we call up a plumber. And another truth of this is that sometimes the plumber can’t come right away. The trip from town out here to us can take a bit of a while.
     “Which gets to my point, Bruce. You see, when that plumber finally does arrive, the last thing in the world we want him to do is to teach us how to unplug toilets.”

Click below for more:
Fork Over Those Smaller Plates
Call On Structural Equation Modeling
Reassess Your Pricing Assumptions


  1. Bruce, how brilliant! Thanks for sharing this priceless story during Bathroom Blogfest 2011!


  2. I LOVE this anecdote. How true, especially in this age of specialization. Sounds as though nobody could do such training better than you!

    My question: Is business so great that you encourage clients to replace you?

  3. Jeanne, there was clearly a risk in this case that my client would find someone else to do the training. My nagging had made me a nuisance. About six months after his plumber story to me, I did get a contract to train the trainers. I'd thought I'd then be called back periodically to do updates, but that did not and has not happened.