Sunday, March 23, 2014

Exceeds... or, the St. Malachi Race

My previous post was about far exceeding expectations. This one is about slightly exceeding them.

The St. Malachi 5-Mile race is held around St. Patrick's Day every year. I've done it a cou ple times in the past, but it had been a while. My training over this winter from hell has been awful, and now I'd learned that so was my weight. So I didn't expect much.

But the weather was great - 40 degrees with a little wind. So of course I went out too fast. My first mile was just under seven minutes, and I was still at 21 minutes flat at 3 miles. Too bad the race didn't end there. I not only had to tired miles to go, but they were mostly uphill and into the wind. It was a struggle.

The final downhill quarter-mile was nice, and it felt good to finish that part strong. My time was 36:28, good for third in my ancient age group. I really don't know what my expectation was, but I am certainly okay with this. Of course it's two full minutes slower than my 5-Mile race times of last summer. I'd better start working harder. And expecting more.

Far Exceeds

Consider this rating scale:

It's from an article about rating rating scales, and it's a typical assessment mechanism. At a place I worked at a while back, we used such a scale to gauge our customer satisfaction. Customers, in this case, were the people we were doing work for, be they external to the company or fellow workers whom we supported.

If the customer liked the person requesting to be rated, they would naturally give them a higher grade. It would go something like this: "I like Dan a lot, and he's doing good work for me. I'll give him the highest score (a 2 on the scale above, or possibly a 5 if the scale contained scores ranging from 1 to 5)."

I unsuccessfully argued against the use of such a scale. Sure, it's good to have your customers like you, and it's very important to meet their expectations. But is it even a good thing to exceed expectations? They might be happy if the person they're rating does do more than expected, but doesn't that imply that we rateees/suppliers may be giving something (in our case, services) away for free? I can see that this too would be good occasionally, but if you give away the store one too many times, the store may eventually go under.

And what does it mean to Greatly Exceed Expectations? Isn't that really giving away the store? In what universe is that a good thing for the store?

All this went through my head when I stepped on the scale (the kind that measures weight) the other day. I hadn't been checking my weight for quite some time, but I still had my expectations. And, you guessed it, they were Greatly Exceeded! Unfortunately, not in a good way. I'm working on this little problem. I still do the fasting thing, but it's the feast days that need to be scaled back. Check with me in a month or so.

Sunday, March 02, 2014

We Slow

First there was the Chevy Nova. Urban legend has it that General Motors experienced poor sales of the vehicle in Mexico and other Spanish speaking countries because the name translates to “doesn't go” in Spanish. Incidentally, I was surprised to learn just now that the story actually isn't true. According to, “This is another one of those tales that makes its point so well — just like the apocryphal one about George Washington and the cherry tree — that nobody wants to ruin it with a bunch of facts.” But then they went on to do just that. 

Today's Dick's Sporting Goods ad for other
inexpensive running shoes: the
Nike Downshifter and the ASICS Unifire
And then there was the Nike Attempt II. My daughter Veronica and I noticed this in a Kohl’s ad a while back. I explained that the major running shoe manufacturers sell their high-end models to running specialty stores, but make less expensive ones to sell at lower prices at retailers such as Kohl’s, JCP and Dick’s Sporting Goods. But the name, Attempt just sounds kind of funny for a running shoe. According to the definition, it implies "an act of trying to achieve something". Seems like a running shoe ought to be associated something just a little bit more than only an attempt. And since this one had a Roman Numeral 2 for a suffix, it wouldn't even be the first time one has tried it. I have just noticed that I wrote about this in an earlier blog post. Sorry for the duplication, but I couldn't resist. 

Ad in today's Walmart flyer for a We Slow Treadmill
Today I saw a Walmart ad for a Weslo Treadmill. Yes, I’m aware that Weslo is the name of the manufacturer and not the model. And yes, I’m also aware that it’s one word and not two. But if it were two, it would sound an awful lot like, We Slow. Now who would buy a treadmill that implies that we, the buyers/users are slow?

Not me. And it's not that I am not slow, especially these days. It’s just that I would never admit it.

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