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Jul 01 2017
The Ripple Effect
Paul Stott, Sunroc Building Materials

The Ripple Effect is based on the understanding that we are all connected. These connections stretch like an incredibly interwoven and complicated tapestry. Each of us exists within this tapestry. Thoughts and actions are like stones dropped in a pond and they create ripples that travel outward. Everything we do and think affects the people in our lives and their reactions in turn affect others. The choices you make have far-reaching consequences. (humanityhealing.org)

Sounds pretty dramatic doesn't it. We've all heard the expression of a "well-oiled machine." When our words and actions contribute to our jobs and businesses being a well-oiled machine, our ripple effect is a positive one. But our ripple effect and the ripple effect of those we work with can be the cause of this well-oiled machine breaking down. This negative effect causes damage to our effectiveness at our jobs, the relationships we have with our customers and our company's profitability and reputation. These are all "far-reaching consequences." 

May I give you one simple example that I've been fighting or dealing with for the four years I've been a Credit Manager with my company. This one example can be multiplied many times, over a long period of time, creating a negative ripple effect. 

Customer X approaches Salesman Y and purchases building materials for several thousands of dollars. So far so good. When the materials are shipped to the job site and are inventoried by the customer, he discovers that many of the products are not what he ordered i.e. wrong sizes, wrong amounts etc. Human error is not unheard of and for the most part, forgivable with an apology and a swift correction. But in these cases that I've been dealing with, the salesman is only apologetic. He does not follow up to make sure the materials are picked up and returned in a timely manner and doesn't credit the customer's account for the error. My suspicion is, the salesman doesn't want to take the hit for the credit, against the sale, at least not right away, so he delays doing what's right for the customer. It could be that the salesman's priorities are misguided and puts a very low status on any kind of customer service that isn't ringing up a sale. Regardless of the reason, the customer suffers and so the Ripple Effect begins. 

It reaches me when the customer informs me that he is not going to pay any of his other invoices until this situation has been corrected and he has the credit on his account, and has received the correct materials that he ordered. Of course, by this time, the customer is angry and frustrated. His opinion of my company has taken a nose dive and he is likely to spread the negative feelings to others he associates with, many of them in the same industry. He may think twice about placing another order with us. This negative Ripple Effect becomes far reaching in all respects.

If this was an isolated occurrence, then we would all survive, but if this is more of a norm for this salesman and maybe the person who loaded the truck with the wrong materials (if the order was correct), and the person who was supposed to pick up the wrong materials but just didn't get around to it, then we've got a serious problem.

It's critical that we are all aware of how we can affect those around us for either good or bad and make every effort to be a positive effect, that ripples out to others.