System vs Person

Hello mate, i’m Brett, i’ll be your server”. Brett was a couple of years younger than me, from New Zealand, and definitely hot out of training as the proudest waiter at the Italian restaurant.

System vs Person

i’ll have spaghetti and tomato sauce”, i said. “No problem mate, what second sauce would you like”.

Just the one sauce please, tomato”.

But you get two sauces mate, what second one would you like”.

Make that one tomato too hey?

And salad or soup?

Just the spaghetti please, that’s enough

But you get salad or soup” retorted Brett, slightly desperately.

Ok, Salad

And what dressing do you want mate?

Sometimes you have to know when you’re beat. The system continued, telling me that i should have ice cream too. And garlic bread.

Now Brett was great: we talked about skiing, about New Zealand, about places to visit. It was just when we both lapsed into the semi formal world of food that he felt so constrained by the system, and i felt so disconnected from any semblance of service. Not because of Brett, but because of what Brett had been taught to do.

Training can be an abstract activity, getting people to conform to a system, but great service may well be despite any system. That’s why formal knowledge alone is not enough: it may give you a frame to operate within, but remove authenticity, remove choice, remove discretion, and you remove the point of it all.

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About julianstodd

A learning and development professional specialising in e-learning and learning technology.
This entry was posted in Adaptability and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to System vs Person

  1. rschaefe1 says:

    Great analogy Julian!
    I know the “Algorithm Intelligence” continues to improve and it’s the programming or training that sets it apart. If anyone has received a bill for a few cents in the mail, it’s the same issue of programming the system to send out a bill, even though the cost to send is much more than what the company will get back. So, I’ll overpay the bill by a few cents just to play with the “flawed training”

  2. Pingback: This Week’s Links « Timothy Siburg

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