Good to know…Eat the peas now or…

Good to know…All those knowns

There’re three varieties of knowns. First there are the known knowns. Then come the known unknowns. Finally there are those sometimes very  dangerous unknown unknowns.

When we walk into a sales call with less preparation than necessary, the percentage of that third “known” goes up in direct proportion to our lack of understanding of the situation.

Let’s say it’s a cold call on a restaurant whose door you’ve been meaning to darken for a while. You know they’re a busy breakfast, lunch and dinner operation. You also know the competitor  servicing them – including his weaknesses.

So that first known is in the bag. As for the known unknowns you aren’t sure what products they’re using. You also don’t know the condition of their equipment, but it stands to reason it ought to be decent given the rest of the operation.

So you pitch the idea of eliminating the subpar glassware, the streaked plates and spotty flatware. For good measure you float the possibility of reducing their chemical costs by as much as 10%. They seem open to all that. So far so good, right?

But when you get a look at the dishroom you’re pretty shocked to find a really old, badly maintained thirty old single tank conveyor. Yep, the unknown-unknown strikes. Truth is we can’t eliminate all of the unknown unknowns, but we can lessen them with some extra footwork and intelligence gathering.

Next up: Using those intelligence sources.

Eat the peas now or…push them aside?

When we find ourselves presented with a really serious problem that demands our attention it can be almost paralyzing. But by asking the question, “What’s the worst thing that can happen?” we might well see a way past that indecision and either deal with it or accept the possible worst-case scenario if we don’t.

But the problem is that if we ask it, the answer we get might be troubling or at best unpleasant. With that concern in our minds it’s tempting to simply shelve the matter and hope it somehow resolves  itself. Of course that can happen, because occasionally ignored problems do have a way of curing themselves. But more often they only get worse if we ignore them.

Either way, what we need is a consciously made  decision. Assuming we decide to ignore it and we’re reconciled to enduring the aftermath of the worst outcome, we’ve at least made a conscious decision. And if we decide we can’t take that hit, then dealing with it – however unpleasant that task will be is the best alternative.