Lessons from a home renovation

Recently, I’ve had to engage a home contractor to redo the tiles in my bathroom. The whole project took a lot longer than I expected and while it finally was complete successfully, many lessons can be inferred into any industry or project, including customer experience.

Training & Learning are essential.

The first thing that happened during the project was that the main contractor did not have the necessary expertise and training to perform the plumbing works. Everyone knows that a bathroom’s most important element is the plumbing. When the piping failed, I activated by backup plan and called my regular plumber. The results was night and day. What the main contractor did in half-a-day was done by my plumber under an hour with much better quality workmanship.

The difference here is the training, experience honing a skill. I guess the contractor could also do the pipework, he lacked the experience to do a good job and do it timely.

As organizations adapt and evolve quickly to deal with new threats, start-ups and economic disruptors everywhere, it is critical not to forget that training and up-skilling your staff are equally or even more important that restructuring business units or product development. Both parties in my case charged the same amount for the same scope of work. One did it four times longer with lower quality. Everyone can guess who was more profitable.

Right Tools, Right Job

In order to replace the loose and falling tiles, the old tilework, cement bits and grouting had to be removed from the existing walls. This would require a large amount of hammering and cutting. The first week’s work went extremely slowly. I was shocked as this meant that based on speed of work projection, instead of taking 6 days per bathroom, the work would be three times longer. When I looked more carefully, the issue was that the tools available were poor. The tools didn’t work well and the cutting and drilling parts were blunt.

So you’ve hired the key staff you wanted with the necessary skill sets, experience, attitudes and aptitudes for success. Once you’ve on-boarded them, what’s next? What tools are you giving them to work better, faster, more efficiently? What about collaboration tools? Are you hobbling them with archaic reporting or unnecessary processes? In this area, work simplification, process automation and optimized business processes can do wonders. In delivering the right customer experience, we always focus first on people and process but we’ve not neglected the technology either because with the right tools, you’re further empowering your staff to do more, better and faster.

I do have a few more lessons from a simple home renovation that went off-track but I will save them for the next post! So remember, training and tools are important if you want to deliver good results – for yourself, for your organization and for your shareholders/investors.