We don't decide ... the customer does
I'm not really a car geek BUT I have always been fascinated by car stories. That is to say the marketing story or the story of how the car came to be. At university I heard the case study of the Mazda MX5 and of course learned about the Toyota "Just in time" management practice. It's in that context that I am a fan of cars.
I LOVE watching documentaries about car design. A few days ago I watched this one about Nissan. I happen to be a Nissan car-owner and if you want to chat to me about how much I love my car then you should give me a call. Nissan have amazing customer service too. I bought this car in December 2013. It's been the best year driving around in it. And taking it in for a service check is a dream.
In the National Geographic documentary linked above one of the highly trained artisan-engineers says "It's terrifying. Because we don't decide whether this is a well-performing GTR engine, the customer does." The workers worry whether they've done enough.
The customer decides.
That phrase really stood out. It's true of everything. Mister Donuts in Japan claims to make the "world's best coffee". I say according to who? I think their coffee is disgusting. They can say it's the world's best and for some people it might be. But no matter what they say ultimately I decide based on how it tastes to me.
If you watch the documentary from a business culture point of view you really start to see how DIFFERENTLY they think, than what would be expected. The most successful car manufacturers all have the type of culture where you get the feeling many of the people involved would work for free. There's a huge sense of pride. And a great sense of responsibility. It's more than just a job to them.
I guess my point is, what do you do? We all want to be the best at what we do. But at the end of the day it's the customers who decide. So it's our job to do everything in our power to make it the best, to keep striving for that perfection. But above all to make sure that the things we strive to perfect are the things the customers really care about.