Clean Slate

By the time you read this column, the NFL season will be into its third or fourth week.


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By the time you read this column, the NFL season will be into its third or fourth week. A couple of lucky teams will already be tagged as Super Bowl contenders, and a handful of not-so-lucky teams will probably be seeing their season spiraling down the drain. However, as I write this, the season opening game between the Indianapolis Colts and New England Patriots is still four days away (for the record, I’m taking Indy).

For me, the start of the professional football season is one of the best times of the year. One of the things that appeals to me is that it is the fact that it represents a clean slate for the teams involved. Every September, 32 franchises start the season with zero wins and zero losses. Regardless of whether it was the Super Bowl champion the previous season or went 2-14, every team starts the year off on even footing with its competitors—at least until that first game, anyway.

For most of us in the “real world,” the idea of a clean slate is a little more elusive. After all, it's not as though once the year begins, we can scrap that powder coating system we bought last year simply because it's not performing like we want it to. Likewise, we may still be dealing with the consequences of a poor business decision made a decade ago. The idea of a clean slate—at least as the coaches and players in the NFL know it—simply doesn’t exist for those of us who don’t earn millions of dollars to throw the old pigskin around.

Still, that’s not to say that there aren’t some aspects of our business—or our industry for that matter—that can’t be wiped clean from time to time and treated as a “clean slate.”

For instance, maybe your shop has had ongoing quality control issues with a particular part or finish. You’ve addressed the symptoms of the problem with a variety of different “band-aids,” but have yet to find a cure. Perhaps its time to “wipe the slate clean,” get your management team together and brainstorm to find a new—and permanent—resolution?

I encourage you to try selecting an issue or problem in your job shop and wiping the slate clean. It doesn’t have to be an earth-shattering issue. Maybe it’s a smaller problem, such as a quality issue or company morale. You’ll find that starting over is not only incredibly liberating, it can also be quite effective.