Notes on Being a Kettle
When did you last boil a kettle? Did you notice anything special going on?
You mean you didn't phone Morphy Richards (other kettle manufacturers are available) and thank them for efficiently providing you with hot water in less than two minutes with almost no effort on your part?
In a world where everyone is trying to be noticed - think reality TV, social media, 15 minutes of fame - it's easy to forget that sometimes the most successful products, the most successful people and the most successful companies, are the ones that don't get noticed.
At Europat, we silently transform the highly-convoluted process of European Patent Validation into a seemless, simple action - often without the end client even knowing we exist!
At Stage One Technology we regularly roll around the world with €14m-worth of state-of-the-art technology. We time flame-spitting, mud-spewing World Rally Cars to the millisecond. We provide critically important GPS safety tracking across hundres of kilometres. We make that data instantly available to our partners in a variety of formats as though it appeared with ease, like magic. But nobody really notices.
And we don't want them to.
It's easy to treat silence negatively - "oh, people only notice us when we do things wrong". But treat it as a positive - for a start it gives you more time to get on with your job! You'd be pretty hacked off if the kettle didn't boil first thing in the morning, but it's a nice luxury not to have to be in awe of your kettle. And you know what? I bet you haven't changed your kettle for some time.
In so many areas of life people care only about the results, not about how those results are achieved. That's sometimes a bad thing - but not always! If you're one of those people then you should view silence as the biggest compliment there is. If nobody talks about what you do, you may well have succeeded and if everyone is talking about you then it's possible you've failed.
When this happens, when the silence is deafening, it's critically important as a good manager for you to realise your staff are successfully operating under the radar. If they're not getting any praise externally then make sure they're getting it from within - from you.
A supplier who quietly and diligently gets on with the job without fuss or complication is a valuable find!
Be the kettle.
P.S. It's fine to be a whistling kettle if there's a need to be noticed at a critical time, but don't do it for the sake of it or you'll soon start annoying people.