I am restoring an 1890 antique reed organ…the type you pump for the sound. I have learned a lot about the intricate workmanship of yesteryear. Deep inside are minute mini-inventions—ingenious ways to pull air thorough reeds to make a special, magical melody. But, the best discovery was what was under the keyboard—the hand written signature of the person who assembled this organ. It was a large scrawl—like the John Hancock of a proud worker eager to be associated with the workmanship.
I was staying at the Marriott in downtown New Orleans. As I exited the taxi, the bellman extended his hand and proudly said, “I am Mel Washington! Welcome to my Marriott. I will be your bellman from here all the way to your guest room!” There were no hand-offs, no deference, and no hesitation; just wall to wall confidence—a large signature—that telegraphed pride and competence.
We are in an era of passion larceny. Cutbacks, layoffs, lean and mean, and do more with less have robbed many enterprises of the front line enthusiasm that builds customer loyalty. Fear of the future, timidity, and caution has taken the boldness out of service delivery. It has too often replaced with keep-you-head-down aversion to appropriate risk-taking. We need a renewal of service courage—the type that propelled workers 120 years ago to sign their name to their work. Would you be willing to always sign your name to the service you deliver?