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October 2, 2012

Cindy Penchina, President

medium 4199675334This summer, we stopped at well known supermarket in upstate NY to purchase food for the long holiday weekend ahead. We decided to go on Thursday night to avoid the weekend lines at the cash registers. We did our shopping quickly. The store didn't seem crowded at all. Then we got to the registers and found that there were only about 3 registers open and the lines were horribly long! We waited along with the other customers and as time ticked by, customers were becoming impatient and irate. 

When I got up to the cashier, I asked why there were so few open registers. The lines at this store were never this long. The cashier told me that they staff the registers according to the sales on this date in the prior year. Well, in this case, that's dumb. I'll tell you why.

First, on this date, the year prior, it was not the day before a holiday weekend, which in itself would explain the difference in sales. But, in addition, it happened to be the one year anniversary of a disasterous flood that impacted the entire region. People lost their homes, their businesses and absolutely nobody was shopping. They were busy dealing with this horrible tragedy!

The store's system of staffing based on last year's sales on this particular date cost them sales, made customer's angry and employees frustrated. 

According to Neil Smith, in his book How Excellent Companies Avoid Dumb Things, there are 8 barriers that cause businesses to do dumb things:

  1. Avoiding Controversy
  2. Poor Use of Time
  3. Reluctance to Change
  4. Organizational Silos
  5. Management Blockers
  6. Incorrect Information and Bad Assumptions
  7. Size Matters
  8. Existing Processes
So, is your business doing dumb things? Take a look at your processes and decisions and see if any of these items are barriers to your success. Recognizing them as barriers can be the first step to making sure you're making smart decisions.


photo credit: Alex E. Proimos via photopin cc