Setting the Precedent

Posted by Brad J. Ward | Posted in Technology, Thoughts | Posted on 08-13-2010

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I got my car serviced today. A 60,000 mile tune-up. I never did tune-ups before I owned this vehicle.

As I sat there for 3 hours, working from the lobby and making calls, my mind drifted to why I sat there. Why I do this, with this car. We’ve never done any tune-ups on my wife’s car. Or my last vehicle. Or any other car I’ve ever owned.  But this one… it’s at the dealer every 7,500 miles.

It’s because of the precedent that has been set.

Before I bought this vehicle, I rummaged through the service records in the glove box.  Immaculate.  Literally. Take a look below. The person before me not only hit every service interval, but often did it 1-3,000 miles before it was even due. Proactive maintenance.

As I sat there, I thought about precedent. The one that had been set before me on this car.  The fact that I knew what I was taking over from the person who owned this vehicle before me (perfection). And finally… the fact that, for the first time in my history of owning a vehicle, I felt compelled enough by seeing a page with stamps and signatures on it that I continue to follow the maintenance/service intervals. Again, it all came down to the precedent.

Your Job

You’re not going to be at your job forever. Agreed?

But the precedents you set, they’ll stick around.  Your work ethic. Your management and leadership.  The way you run meetings. How you handle conflict.  How much time you waste on Twitter. The small things, the big things, and everything in between.

What kind of framework are you laying down? When the person who steps into your place next takes over, what are you leaving them? Hopefully, something that’s exciting to be a part of.

Care. Care enough to want to do better than the person who had your job before you, and care enough to leave something worthwhile for the person after you.

Instead of an expectation of mediocrity in your workplace, what would a precedent of excellence look like? Where dragging out deadlines and pushing things to “phase 2″ was simply not good enough? And “work hours” actually meant “productive work hours”?

Create a precedent in everything you do that makes people want to continue it and take it further, even if they never met you, and regardless of the cost.

Comments posted (4)

Love this analogy and the lessons you draw from it.

Creating a strong, positive culture is definitely important, but it often gets overlooked because it can seem amorphous or pie-in-the-sky. Or simply because platitudes aren’t translated into real-word examples and actions. And as you’ve shown, it applies to all aspects of our lives, not just work.

The pages of my maintenance record aren’t nearly as tidy, in fact, they are soiled with oily fingerprints and sweat from my forehead. You see, instead of shifting the responsibility of maintenance to someone else, I turn the wrench on my own.

Some might see it as a waste of time (read: twitter), but I see it as a way to learn more about the vehicle I drive. If the problem is too big, I seek an expert, but ask to watch their every move, so I can learn even more.

Do I fear that the next owner will question my love and dedication for the upkeep of this vehicle because my service record is unofficial? No. My son gets the keys next… guess you could say it’s a family business. Plus, he’s watched my every move.

*please note: I don’t drive a fancy European vehicle, so maintenance is much less complex :)

You turn the wrench on your own = no one will ever take your job from you?

And your son is going to be the next webmaster of UWGB? :)

Hopefully when he’s ready for a job, this Web thing will be over with. Cars become obsolete when jetpacks go mainstream.

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