From an old fable…

A long, long time ago, in the forests far to the north, all of the logging camps came together once a year for the annual lumberjack championship.  Two lumberjacks, Lars and Sven, were the undisputed champions in their respective camps.  In the end, it was always a match between the two of them to determine the best lumberjack of all.

Lars was a strapping lad, and strong as an ox. His plaid shirt bulged with muscle.

Sven, the past champion year after year, was getting on in years now. His beard was graying and his once-broad shoulders no longer filled out his shirt.

Lars just knew this was the year he would win.  He thought to himself, “The champion is past his prime.  He is old and feeble, and I am strong, and can chop for hours without tiring.”

Lars and Sven each moved to their corner of the large clearing in the dense woods.  The horn blew, and the contest began.

Lars chopped with an intensity that shook the forest.  The other lumberjacks were in awe of his powerful strokes.   Every once in awhile, Lars looked over at Sven.  Sven was chopping hard too, but frequently, Lars saw Sven sitting on a stump with his axe across his lap.  His breathing was labored, and beads of sweat dripped from his forehead.

“Got him!!,” Lars thought, “He is tired and weak, and takes too many breaks.”  Lars’ axe flew even faster.

Finally, the time elapsed and the horn blew.  Lars set his axe aside, stood tall, and walked to the center of the clearing to accept the trophy.

The judge proclaimed, “And the winner is

Remember the end of the Wizard of Oz when the scarecrow receives his diploma?  The wizard explains that the scarecrow, the cowardly lion, and the tin man had the qualities they had been searching for (in the scarecrow’s case, intelligence) all along.  They just needed validation, or “certification”, by others.

As the competition heats up, more MSPs are seeking certification as a differentiator, and there are a number of options available.

Most visible among the touted benefits is the potential distinction that becoming certified offers to prospective clients – validation by a competent source that the MSP has the infrastructure and business processes necessary to provide continuing high-value services to their client.

However, the benefits potentially go much deeper than this.

Certification makes your business better!

The other day at Starbucks, the shift leader was explaining her methodology to a barista trainee.  She described how she set up the espresso bar exactly so – with flavorings in precisely the same place on the left, chocolate sprinkles on top of the machine, just to the right, and various spoons and jugs all in their place on the right counter.

Her goal was to be able to prepare the next mocha or latte quickly and efficiently, without having to think about where to reach for her tools.  She told the trainee she reached for each implement with “muscle memory”, saving time and wasting little effort.  The shift lead was taking time to coach the junior barista so that he could serve Starbucks customers with the same speed and precision.

Muscle memory, or motor learning, involves committing a specific action to memory through continuous repetition.  Over time, the task can be performed without conscious effort.  We experience this phenomenon every day when we drive, text (not at the same time…), or play the piano.

So, how does this relate to your Service Desk?

Waffle House restaurants are a part of Americana.

They are featured in movies, such as Tin Cup with Kevin Costner. (“I’m a Waffle House guy. Got to stay in touch with that.)  Rosie O’Donnell recognized them on TV and received a “Waffles for Life” certificate.  They are the favorite haunt of late night truckers and teenage pajama parties.   Their black and yellow signs stand tall at interstate highway exits throughout the southeast and midwest.

When you visit one on a busy morning, you are greeted by a cacophony of sounds and smells that can only be described as chaotic.  Waitresses bark patron orders across the kitchen to no one in particular.  Cooks throw eggs and hash browns on the grill in rapid fire.  Plates are quickly filled and servers hustle them off to the counter or a formica table.  If you watch this scene for a few minutes, it’s a wonder that anyone gets what they ordered.

Yet, everyone (or nearly everyone) gets what they ordered. And relatively quickly.  The quality and presentation are remarkably consistent across more than 1500 locations.

How do they do it?