It was more good stuff – ways that we relate to customers and each other. We got direct feedback from past customers, and shared our own experiences from all sides of the transaction. Great, creative stuff.
What was missing – and missing at a planning level from the consultant – was the concept of how this was a structural problem as well. It’s very similar to the problems of racism that I’ve discussed here before. There’s prejudice, which roughly equates to people who are rude to customers and general jerk-offs. Then there’s structural racism – which roughly equates to workers who are brusque not because of personal disposition, but because of overwhelming demands, or being sleep-deprived due to a needed second job, and the like.
It’s always easy to see the Archie Bunkers – the “bad apples” of our society. Whether it’s because of prejudice or simply being a jerk, they’re pretty obvious. The harder – and ultimately, more important – issue is when the structures of our society are working against the values we espouse. We can espouse all sorts of caring initiatives and ways of trying to get people to value work – but if they’re having to work two jobs to simply pay the bills, if they’re being routinely asked to accomplish impossible demands… then the problems will persist, no matter how many inspirational seminars we have.
It was great, therefore, for me to hear the coworkers with me begin talking about this during the breaks, to begin plotting ways around the obstacles of structure. Ultimately, we will all have to realize that to walk the talk, we will have to alter our stride.
And that will be a good thing.