• Standardization: Consumers are practical geniuses than manufacturers



    IN my interaction with thousands of people and organizations, I discovered that many of them (to say it diplomatically) were a bit sloppy in their strategic thinking that they spend more than 50 percent of their time doing something that is destined to fail, simply because of inconsistency or lack of strict adhesion to certain prescribed standards. Let me tell you a story:

    A guest in a beach hotel called over a waiter one morning and said: “I want two boiled eggs, one of them undercooked and runny, and the other so overcooked like rubber, and also grilled bacon that has been left on the plate to get cold; burnt toast that crumbles right away as soon as you touch it with a knife; butter straight from deep-freeze so that it’s impossible to spread, and a pot of very weak coffee, lukewarm.”

    “Sir, I’m sorry to say that’s a complicated order,” said the bewildered waiter. “It might be a bit difficult.”

    The guest replied: “Why difficult? But that’s what you gave me yesterday!” This came to me when I bought a P39 tuna pimiento pan de sal (bread) and cold tea drink from 7-11 last week. But then you may be asking: “Why are you buying a cheap snack?” My simple answer is: “Because they have such a terrific selection for ordinary people like me.” The real truth of the matter is—“I’m on a diet.” Well, anyway, the dutiful crew placed the pan de sal inside a microwave oven and pressed “1” for the 10-second reheating process.

    In a little over 15 seconds, I completed the transaction and paid P39 for which I got my precious pan de sal pack and tea drink inside the Legaspi Village Makati store. That’s how I discovered the instruction on the pack: “Press 2 to reheat in microwave oven for 20 seconds.”

    Questions: Why does the 7-11 guy failed to observe the 20-seconds standard for reheating? What’s the point of short-circuiting the process? Why ignore the 20-second requisite, in the first place? And the most important question is—would the bacteria in my tuna sandwich survive 10 seconds of microwave exposure?

    I’m still alive and kicking as I write this piece. Apparently, the cheap snack did nothing to harm my body but it left an indelible mark for me to ask those questions similar in intensity to another question: “Why do taxi drivers of Toyota Vios have their hood slightly open while driving?” You know what I mean. Check and see for yourself. I can imagine that seven out of 10 taxi Vios that you can see on the road are doing this.

    At one time, I had the opportunity to ask this question to one taxi driver who opines: “It helps a lot to air cool the engine.” I’m not sure if that’s true. But it raises another question: “Are you telling me that the average Filipino taxi driver is more intelligent than Toyota’s famed auto engineers, technicians and scientists?” I checked the Internet for a ready answer and found who saying: “I am a little uneasy with the cover retaining engine heat longer to deteriorate the rubber and important plastic components under the hood.” Sounds logical, isn’t it?

    Uncle Turbo says the same thing: “A potential downside of the engine cover is they reduce airflow around the engine and hold more heat closer to the engine. Is that an issue? Hard to say but I’d take cooler over hotter in most instances.”

    In our everyday life, there are many practical and positive aspects of the consumers taking the matter into their own hands after buying a product. The major ones are: One, it’s now my product regardless of warranty restrictions. Two, I’m taking responsibility for it. And three, I want to save more money.

    Two months ago, I bought a P2,500 Epson ME32 printer and converted it to a continuous ink supply system (CISS) through a specialist that you can find elsewhere inside shopping malls. I know the risks involved.

    Converting the unit to a CISS violates the warranty and I lose the chance to have it repaired or replaced by the manufacturer if it has become defective.

    But I don’t care. Why not? Today, I must have saved more than P15,000 (and counting) worth of original ink if I stuck to buying only original Epson ink. That’s because I didn’t follow the recommendation of the manufacturer—to use only original ink.

    The rule of standardization is easy to understand: “If you resent it, don’t do it. If you do it, don’t resent it.”

    Rey Elbo is a business consultant specializing in human resources and total quality management as a fused interest. Send feedback to elbonomics @gmail.com or follow him on Face- book, LinkedIn or Twitter for his random management thoughts.


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