August 21

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The Downside of Scripted Processes

The other day, I was making my way through Boston Logan airport. I stopped at a coffee shop.

"Hi, may I take your order," the counter girl said with all the enthusiasm of a dead horse. I placed my order. 

"Thank you, have a nice day," she said in similar manner.

When I went to the pickup area, my drink was delivered. "Large coffee with almond milk," the worker said. Not looking in my direction, and practically throwing the drink on the counter.

I took my drink and walked off, a bit bewildered I made an entire transaction with almost no eye contact. Sure, I got what I paid for. But it wasn't a pleasant experience.

The coffee shop was a Dunkin Donuts. Which, like many other shops, follows the franchise model.

A franchise is based on ironclad processes that are extremely specific. So specific that the only qualification for an employee is the ability to follow orders and instructions.

This way, anyone can open a franchised shop. So long as they follow the manual of scripts and processes, they'll establish a Dunkin Donuts, McDonalds, Burger King, etc.

In general, processes are a good thing. But when they are scripted in such a way...so ironclad and unbending...this is what happens.

Employees get bored. Doing and saying the same things, day in and day out. Then they become apathetic.

So while they're technically following the scripts and processes, they look miserable. And it has the opposite effect that was intended.

Granted, fast food customers are expecting fast food. Not happy workers. But, how much more pleasant would the experience be if people...you know...smiled, maybe?

The takeaway is that, with any process, even the creative ones, it's helpful to ask if it's too rigid from time to time. Are you enjoying the process?

Or are you just going through the motions because you've done it this way for so long?

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About Jonathan Roberts

I am the founder and director of the South Shore Piano School, and I have been teaching the piano for nearly 20 years. My work centers around bringing music to the lives of kids, parents, and adults in an enriching, meaningful way. At the South Shore Piano School, my incredible colleagues and I accomplish this through skill-based teaching, community, and an innovative, people-first business model. You can read more about me here.


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