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A Quarter Tank of Gas

small_439970350I drive a Cadillac ATS which I really enjoy. It’s a nice, sporty car; it drives well; and I get good gas mileage. Oh, and it’s pretty sharp looking too. But like all cars it needs a little care and feeding now and then.

A few weeks ago my car needed that little bit of attention from the dealership, so I let them have the car for a day to change the air, etc. So they gave me a loaner SUV back.

When I was leaving the dealership, I noticed that I only had a quarter tank of gas. Huh. Okay, that’s fine. Just needed the car for the day. Later on, the dealership called me to let me know they needed to keep the car for several days because of a recall alert. OK FINE THEN. I had their SUV.

A few days later, I realized I was not rich and that I could not afford to keep paying for the gas on the SUV, so I returned it for another loaner ATS. Guess what? Quarter tank of gas. Exactly a quarter tank.

That’s when I realized the quarter tank of gas was very deliberate. In some small way, they are trying to subconsciously align me with their desire for me to not drive very far. Sure, I could fill it up, but a) it was not my car and b) I would never know when I would return it, so my brain said “Don’t fill it up”. That in turn would ensure I didn’t drive very far. It worked. I never drove their loaner very far, even though I had it for over two weeks. (Two weeks!? That’s another story.)

In IT and business, we often work so hard to SPEAK LOUDLY so that people LISTEN TO US that we forget how powerful it can be to communicate in other ways.

  • Are we making it sufficiently pleasant to do IT the right way?
    Are we making it sufficiently painful to do IT the wrong way?

Bigger picture, this applies to business:

  • Are we making it sufficiently pleasant to [things] the right way?
    Are we making it sufficiently painful to [things] the wrong way?

I look at my company, and I wonder if we have the mixture right. What about your company?

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