“Common sense is not so common”

Posted on August 22, 2008. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , |

The quote is attributed to Voltaire, but it is something we have all thought or experienced it at one time or another.  Government bureaucracy, dealing with children, corporations, things done by our management or colleagues, all of these and many others have occasionally left us shaking our heads wondering  who thought of this and why.

The real question though is – how often do your co-workers, vendors, customers or clients wonder the same thing about you, your business, service or product?    How often do they look at what you are doing and just shake their heads?  It is likely more often than you think.  

Have you ever had that client who just stopped calling you to do work?  No explanations given.  You know it was not the quality of your work (they raved about the results) or the price (you gave them a fair enough price that they paid you immediately), but you know that it was something.  You just don’t know what.  It is a good bet that it could involve the “head shake factor”.   That moment when a client looks back at their interactions with you and shakes their head because there is something that just did not make sense.  Your work was phenomenal, but maybe how you chose to present or deliver it didn’t make sense.   Maybe it was your processes, your communication, even possibly your billing practices, they might not even be able to put their finger on what it was, but there was something that made that customer wonder.   Now that customer may not ever clearly identify that what they are questioning is your common sense, but the bottom line is that is exactly what it is.  When there is something that makes your client do the “head shake” it is all the result of you failing to exhibit solid common sense approaches to your business.

We all do it.  We become so enthralled in our work and entrenched in our processes that we forget to ask the most important question – Does this ________ (whatever) make sense in this situation?   It sounds like such a simple question, but it is one that we don’t ask often enough.  We move along with our successes and failures, assuming that we are making the right decisions in each aspect of our business.  We get caught up in doing most things the same way, time and time again.   We do it because most of the time it works, it is the way it has always been done, it becomes familiar and seems easy and maybe, most of the time it produces results.   The good thing is that a lot of the routine things in our businesses can be done the same way.   The bad thing is when we fail to stop and make sure that we are using our common sense when we set up our processes, plan our projects, schedule ourselves and our work, make financial decisions, pitch a proposal to a client, all of the things we do that are crucial to the success of our businesses.

Does it make sense to pitch that particular project to that particular client in that particular way?   Do I really need to buy that new piece of equipment now or would it make more sense to wait another month or two when my cash flow is better?   Does it make sense to use this application for this project/my business/etc…?   The list of ways we can make our business more efficient, more productive, just plain More is endless.   It is just a matter of taking the few seconds to ask ourselves – What I am doing, thinking, planning – Does It Make Sense?

Common sense is not difficult.  It is, in most people, an innate knowledge.  But all too often we fail to apply our common sense to things that are familiar.   When was the last time you looked at your office management, the way you handle your entire process from obtaining a lead to cashing that final check?  You likely have it broken out in steps, since it is a process after all.  Does each of these steps logically and smoothly lead into the next one?   If you can honestly say they do, then you have used your common sense to put the process together.  Good for you!

The challenge today and for the future of your business success is to take that moment, ask the question – Does this make sense?  You’ll be surprised to find that for each time you ask that question and implement the positive answer, whether it was what you were planning or something different, you’ve gained another inch up that ladder that will take your business up into the stratosphere of success.   So go forth, start questioning and start using your common sense.  Your clients,  customers, co-workers, your business and You, will thank you.

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8 Responses to ““Common sense is not so common””

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What a great post! Sometimes I think there should be a class in “Common Sense 101”.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Best wishes for a terrific day!

Thanks Marti! Maybe I’ll give that class one of these days. You have a great day too!

Socrates always questioned his fellow town officials, people in perceived power and man/woman themselves. He questioned everything from religion to business practices. The fact is that many of the questions he asked, and in the way that he asked them could never be sufficiently answered because some things just boil down to “Common Sense” However, “Common Sense” never had a scientific foundation in which to base itself on. This allowed Socrates to continue to question without basis of knowledge himself.

My feelings on “Common Sense” is simple. Not everyone looks at things in the same common way. Commonality is a word that refers to ;One in the same. I agree with you that some things should be considered “Common Sense”, but those that often refer to something as being “Common sense” I look at and say “What?” “Why?”

Case in point, my boss would ask me to do something, I would achieve that task and he would question my method saying it would be common sense to do it his way. My rebuttal to that is I guess I’m not “Common”

Modern Psychology states that EVERYONE does what they do because they think what they are doing is the right thing at that time. The killer that shot someone dead in the streets thought that was what they needed to do at that moment. Common sense to me says “Why the hell didn’t you just ask him if you could share that corner of the street, hell work together and find a solution to your problem” . Unfortunately or sometime fortunately, common is Uncommon. So my philosophy is to have “Good Intention” if you lose an account with good intentions, then I believe there is little else you can do. Furthermore, I believe that “Common Sense” can be used as a creative barrier for kids as they grow older, this stifles their sense of childhood wonderment….always being told to have more common sense.

So the next time you judge someone because their action are not what is commonly referred to as “Common Practice” take a second to understand what direction that person is coming from.

my 2cents
Keith

Keith,

Thank you for the feedback! I don’t disagree with you. Everyone does have their own perception of what makes sense. I don’t agree with judging someone based on our impression of how they should have done something, but it is a reality that it happens. The point I am making is that all too often we get complacent, distracted or just trapped in our everyday routine and we do not always stop and question whether or not what we are doing, thinking, planning, etc… actually makes sense for the end result we are trying to achieve. I want to encourage everyone to just stop and think. Not to get stuck thinking or doing something that might make more sense in those particular circumstances being done in a different way.

I listened to a podcast tonight produced by the Canadian Podcast Buffet. This was a cast of Jay Moonah speaking at PAB. He said while going to school for radio in Toronto, that one of his professors said that a rule of broadcasting was never to play two songs back to back that were sang by a female. Crazy rule right? Where the heck did that come from? Turns out it was a rule made up in the early stages of broadcasting because there were a limited number of female performers. To this day that professor was teaching this as a rule to follow.

Maybe he should have asked himself “Why is this a rule?” Seems like common sense to me.

Thanks-Keith

PS. Common sense for a long time told us to get good grades, go to university, work in an industry, and stay there for fourty years until they pay you a pension. Boy, Times they are a changin’

Keith,

My point exactly. My 9-5 is in a very traditional, conservative industry and I run into the same scenario all of the time. “We do it this way because it has always been done this way” Glad to hear there are some other people out there asking the question.
And isn’t it a wonderful thing that times are changin’! So many opportunities to have so much fun!

Gloria

Heh, opportunity… just like common sense, many people wont see that unless it hits them over the head, and then of course they’ll be unconscious and blame the person who whacked them. I like the fact that I live my life with my eyes open to opportunity. In fact, a bunch of us had a discussion in the twittersphere about what gift to give someone for their wedding a few weeks back, and my opportunistic mind has thought of an idea. I made this platter for a Meet-up that I co-organized…….

NOL Platter

and I am going to start doing personalized platters for peoples weddings to have at their welcome table as you walk into the reception. Starting with my own.

So how we got from, common sense, to industry, to opportunity, to creativity…I’ll never know. But know we didn’t do it by following any rules. Keep your eyes open, say the hell out of the box, and life will treat you with gifts of opportunity.
-Keith

Industry, opportunity & creativity – three of the reasons that we should always be applying common sense to what we do. A real evaluation, asking the question – Does this make sense? – lets us open our minds to things that we would not have thought of before. It all ties into each other. As my posts develop hopefully I will open a few eyes on how much.

Gloria


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