Service Minded: The Open Space Principle

This is part of a series highlighting the 12 Excellent Service Principles.

Open Space Principle
Build on what works.

A marriage counselor was working with an overly negative woman. She had a laundry list of her husband's faults and would focus on them every session. The counselor eventually mandated that the woman only say positive things about her spouse during the sessions. This continued for weeks until the counselor knew the lady was ready to be taught a very important lesson.

The counselor asked the lady to draw a circle on a paper and place a dot in it for every one of her husband's faults (she still remembered them). After a few moments she was asked to look into the circle and write down the first word that came to mind. She said dots. The counselor then pulled out the two lists of her husband's traits - positives and negatives. The positives list was longer and the lady was floored. She looked in the circle and only saw dots (the negatives) even though there were more positives (open space).  She has been looking at her husband and only seeing negatives even though he has many more positives. She didn't need to fix what was wrong with her husband as much as she needed to fix her own habit of only focusing on the negatives.

Great customer service has a foundation of building on what works, internally and externally, and spreading those strategies, tactics, concepts, policies and behaviors across the system. You can't fix every problem, foresee every challenge or make the customer experience perfect.  You can create a culture where your team actively chooses to take what is working and maximize it to the point where the negatives almost become irrelevant.  (Almost...)

Up next, the Platinum Rule Principle - Do unto others like they'd like done unto them...

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