Planning, Preparedness, and Being Totally, Completely, and Utterly Ready for Any and All…

It’s just not possible.

In Support I hate being wrong. I disdain not knowing or being unable to help the customer. What’s more, in leadership, I grow weary of not only not having all the answers (or the ways to find them) but sending my team to work without equipping them 110%.

That’s such a high, lofty, and ridiculous calling it’s impossible. Yet I strain and groan and stretch to achieve just that — and fail. Every. Single. Time.

We all work hard. We work late. We try to be the best we can (which is admirable). We help a coworker. We write internal documentation. We write external documentation. We do it all for our customers (our staff) for their customers (the paying subscribers/customers). We want to lay it out beautifully, the architecture complete, and in a deistic manner where we can let it go and run it’s full course. Or at least not need an update for a long time.

But that’s all fraught with failure. Support, by definition, is full of edge cases (save for the setup or potentially onboarding process, the customer should rarely need to contact Support). The system should be designed enough so we can be here but they have an uninterrupted, unbroken stream of usability. Support exists to provide a way around the obstacles that face us; the product is designed to efficiently, effectively, and gracefully deliver us to our destination.

I’m sure the last paragraph could be restated because many of us have Support as a completely necessary and vital aspect for every customer (say for training, account management, etc.), but my point is not to demean support, but to uphold its value. My feeble attempt is to demonstrate the product should be designed where I need to connect with a customer every step of the way. That’s why we have documentation, videos, training guides…Support exists to build an infrastructure to support the customer, not to be a permanent guide or tutor that walks beside each customer along the entire journey as they wander through the bleak valley and up the hillsides to the beautiful vistas of blue-hued skies and deep green forests. I don’t think we can afford to do that for every person on earth.

I spent much of my night trying to stay on top of things. It simply cannot perfectly happen. There are tradeoffs we make on a daily (hourly? Every minute?) basis of which thing to prioritize and consume our mental and emotional energy.

In the case of preparing for absolutely everything, sometimes what we have is simply enough. Sometimes we have to trust our teams they are able to come up with what they need at the time. And when they — and I — eventually fail, we need to be okay with that. We tried. We worked hard. And we will learn from it.

But an obsession to cover absolutely everything on the first try is a destined for destruction for you and me. We need our minds, our health, and our calm, keen, and collected thoughts (that’s what really delivers value to our team: our sanity). To do otherwise proves you are stretched beyond what you’re capable of. You have no slack. I don’t have the ability to think creatively to help that customer, I won’t have the freedom or motivation to dive in, and I can’t handle stressful situations or handling the day to day grind. Simply: I can’t. That — above everything else — guarantees failure. Planning, preparation, and being ready for every single possibility creates the bad news of bankruptcy, breakdowns, and being a basket case.

Published by Jeff Beaumont

I love helping companies scale and grow their organizations to delight customers and employees, enabling healthy teams, fast growth, and fewer headaches. Scaling quickly is wrought with potholes and plot twists. When you’re running a company, losing customers, and employees are on their way out, and don’t have your systems running smoothly, then you’ll be at your wits' end. I've been there and hate it.

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