How poor communication and assumption can leave you ‘caught short’

You might be worried that the slightly lavatorial reference in the title might mean that this edition of the Lowedown, just like the one a couple of weeks back, would not be entirely suitable for breakfast time … but don’t worry, the reference is brief – and first I have to tell you how I got to the airport…

I should start perhaps, by reminding you all that while I’m in Scotland ‘fettling’ one of my other business concerns I stay with some very good friends, one of whom will normally collect me, then later drop me at the airport for my trip back this side of the wall…

Normally, I would fly back down from Edinburgh airport, but on this occasion, necessity dictated I had to fly from Glasgow. Obviously, I mentioned this to Claire (the friend who would normally, very kindly, do the driving) on more than one occasion and when the time came I popped myself in the car ready for the trip … and saw that her husband, Ali, was in the driving seat.

I’d not flown from Glasgow too many times, but as we happily chatted during the journey I became slightly concerned the scenery was more familiar than it should be … and in fact, extremely reminiscent of the usual trip to Edinburgh.

Yes, you can guess what happened … I had told Claire and assumed she would tell Ali. Claire, on the other hand, assumed that I would mention it to Ali as we were very good friends and would be sat next to him for the whole of the journey.

Despite going three-quarters of the way to the wrong airport, it was due to some ‘textbook’ driving (though I do have the mention the ‘textbook’ wasn’t necessarily the Highway Code) that I made it to the right airport with minutes to spare.

I was the last person to board the plane and I was also in the very last row with no window, sat next to an unfortunate girl who thought she had the two seats to herself… luckily though; this wasn’t going to make me the most unpopular person in the flight…

From my seat next to the toilets, I watched it all play out … It’s an interesting vantage point to watch the world go by and on this occasion, this consisted of the same chap going past at least three times to use the facilities on the one hour flight.

It was obvious that he had become ‘comprehensively refreshed’ while waiting for the plane and his bladder was protesting. He had to hold on to the seats and was still swaying as he made his way back and forth regularly, including when he should have been sat down and wearing a seatbelt.

This was much to the discontent of the flight attendants as he repeatedly ignored them and instead protested with  ‘aye, I shouldn’e had all thae beer…get oot the way or I’ll wet mae’sel…’’ Glad I wasn’t sat next to him – or stood anywhere near him when he found how much a pint was in London…

Anyway, the point here is that communication, or at least the assumption of communication can do a lot of damage to the efficient running of your business and can lead to things a lot more serious and expensive than just ending up at the wrong airport.

Imagine for a moment that you ran your online business (as many do) using a network of outsourced or remote workers. Also imagine the challenge of trying to keep them all in the loop when you all might be in different time zones and using a different first language…

That’s why you need to have plenty of conversations with the people who work with or for you. Just as many, in fact as you would with a customer or a supplier. The conversations tend not to always be about work – they could be about what happened at the weekend or the latest piece of transatlantic political tomfoolery.

Time spent like this isn’t wasted … it’s helping to ensure that the old adage that ‘assume’ makes an ‘ass’ out of ‘u’ and me’ does not become a reality…

Until Next Time,

Tim Lowe

Publisher, Tim’s Business Lowe Down 

Tim Lowe