If You Can’t Sign it, Don’t Ship it.

Owning what you create. There’s a lot to be said for feeling real sense of ‘ownership’ of the things you build, manufacture, write, create or the service you provide. Ultimately it’s all about quality. If you care about what you are doing you should be prepared to put your name to it.

By ‘signing’ whatever that is, you are giving a message to whoever is on the end of ‘shipping’. A message that, ‘this products has passed a quality threshold’. Depending on what you do, that could also mean, ‘I’m really proud of it’.

Things you don’t see much anymore. Years ago I used to be fascinated by the little ‘QC’ stickers I’d find in new clothes. I’d busily remove the shop tags and then find a mysterious ‘QC’ sticker hidden on the washing instructions label, or in some other obscure location.

It took me a while to work out these stickers were about Quality Control. The product had been checked and ‘certified with a sticker’, that it was of good enough quality to be shipped to the customer.

Following this revelation I started to ‘notice’ QC stickers in lots of places. I was going to say I saw them ‘everywhere’, but that would just be another example of me falling for confirmation bias.

One variation on the QC sticker I found particularly interesting was the ones with a signature, and often a date. So many questions…

  • Who is this person with the initials ‘BP’ ?
  • What else do they do in the distant factory that made my new sweater?
  • Where has my sweater been in the year since ‘BP’ signed it?

All mildly interesting questions, maybe I had too much time on my hands to think about these things… But, what this did tell me was that someone cared enough about the quality of that sweater to sign a QC sticker and put it on the garment. ‘BP’ signed it and shipped it…

A measure of engagement. I’ve been thinking about QC stickers and ‘signing before you ship’ and what this means in terms of employee engagement. The idea that employee engagement and high quality work are connected is common, people write books about it. My thinking was going along the lines of:

  1. Engagement means that I have ‘ownership’ of what I do.
  2. It is the best quality I can produce.
  3. I’m prepared to put MY name to it.
  4. I will be responsible for what happens once it’s been ‘shipped’.
  5. If it is faulty or below standard I will put things right.

If I’m NOT happy to put my name to what I produce, points 1-5 above probably don’t apply.

I’ll leave it up to you to ponder on what this might mean in your area of activity.

Personalised measures of quality. Recently I’ve been trying to think about what I purchase, and the impact it has. There’s a another blog post in this about the Circular / Foundational Economy initiatives that are developing in Wales. All good stuff about being able to trace where things come from and having long term relationships with; local, sustainable and high quality providers of goods and services.

My favourite example of personalised QC from recent months is a local artist in the Rhondda, BAGSY. This isn’t an advert for ‘The Clothing Brand for the Valleys’ (link here). I already have VIB Status (Very Important Butty) and Twitter recognition as a Cwm Parc T-Shirt model on @IamBagsy.

What I really love about BAGSY was the personal note sent with the T-Shirts we ordered during the peak of the COVID-19 lock-down. Nobody was getting out and the parcel arrived with a lovely hand written note*. I’ve never met BAGSY, and the note brought a huge smile to my face.

The other point is that the handwritten note was like the best QC ‘sticker’ I’ve ever seen. I can tell from the note that BAGSY is sending me a quality product he ‘owns’. The note has guaranteed quality and provided some helpful personal advice to ‘stay safe’. It also suggest staying ‘class’ … but that’s a Valley’s thing.

So, What’s the PONT?

  1. Owning what you create should link to the quality of what you produce.
  2. Being prepared to ‘sign it before you ship it’ should be a mark of that ownership.
  3. If you are not prepared to sign it, you shouldn’t be prepared to ship it.

* The note is addressed to Sian – who handles the financial stuff here. I’m just the clothes horse Twitter model.

About WhatsthePONT

I'm from Old South Wales and I'm interested almost everything. Narrowing it down a bit: cooperatives, social enterprises, decent public services, complexity science, The Cynefin Framework, behavioural science and a sustainable future. In 2018/19 I completed a Winston Churchill Travelling Fellowship, looking at big cooperative enterprises and social businesses in NE Spain and the USA. You can find out more here: https://whatsthepont.com/churchill-fellowship/

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