Over-Commitment Is Under-Commitment

Any manager of a job shop knows that it would be a big mistake to take on work that the shop doesn’t have the time or resources to handle. The overload would surely cause at least one missed delivery, and maybe more.

Columns From: 11/1/2004 Modern Machine Shop, ,

Any manager of a job shop knows that it would be a big mistake to take on work that the shop doesn’t have the time or resources to handle. The overload would surely cause at least one missed delivery, and maybe more. A shop that can’t keep its commitments won’t stay in business very long. When it comes to satisfying customers, there’s no room for compromise.

Of course, living up to commitments is important in all aspects of life. Most of us learned basic lessons about commitments when we were very young. Keeping promises is one of the first things parents try to teach their children.

There was a time when one of the best lessons a kid could learn from organized sports was commitment to the team. This meant going to every practice and every game, no matter what. Coaches and players understood that this was just being fair to each other. Skipping practice or missing a game lets the whole team down.

Young people who learned to take commitments seriously carried this lesson over to attending school, holding a summer job and doing household chores. They learned to be counted on.

People who take commitments seriously also need to learn that it is important not to make commitments that can’t be kept. The job shop manager certainly knows this. It’s the reason shops invest in scheduling systems and shopfloor management software. These tools make missed delivery dates far less likely.

This is one area where today’s parents sometimes make a mistake with kids in sports and other activities. The parents let their sons and daughters make commitments that are bound to conflict with each other. Of course, it’s natural for parents to want their children to take advantage of every opportunity, especially in an era when opportunities abound as never before. But when the rained-out playoff baseball game is rescheduled for the day of the big swim meet or the dance recital, one team or the other has to be left hanging.

As it is, adult life often requires weighing one’s personal opportunities carefully, accepting some and foregoing others, so that the necessary commitments can be fulfilled without compromise. That’s a lesson children need to learn at some point, too. Otherwise, as grownups, they won’t understand that 100 percent commitment may mean making hard choices. Being totally committed to a career or totally committed to raising a family is an example. If conflict arises, the team at work or the team at home will be let down.

Compromises can be costly, just as they are for the job shop.

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