The thing about the wind

I just had some great windsurfing lessons (no, that’s not me–the only thing I had in common with this guy is that we were both upside down). I can tell you that windsurfing is very easy… except for the wind.

The wind makes it tricky, of course. It’s not particularly difficult to find and rent great equipment, and the techniques are fairly straightforward. What messes the whole plan up is the fact that the wind is unpredictable. It’ll change exactly when you don’t want it to.

Just the other day I read a riff that reminded me that the same thing is true about customer service (it would be a lot easier if it weren’t for the customers). Then I realized that every single function of an organization has a wind problem.

Accounting would be easy if every incoming report was accurate and on time. Sales would be easy if it weren’t for the prospects not buying from you all the time. Marketing would be easy if every prospect and customer thought the way you do…

Here’s the good news: the fact that it’s difficult and unpredictable is the best thing that’s happened to you all day. Because if it were any other way, there’d be no profit in it. The reason people bother to go windsurfing is that the challenge makes it interesting. The driving force that gets people to pay a specialist is because their disease is unpredictable or hard to diagnose. The reason we’re here is to solve the hard problems.

The next time you’re tempted to vilify a particularly obnoxious customer or agency or search engine, realize that this failed interaction is the best thing that’s happened to you all day long. Without them, you’d be easily replaceable.