I was talking to my colleague, Dr.Shirsat, in the cafeteria today...
Dr.Shirsat is a veterinary surgeon and he works in the inventory department in the company where I work.
It is always a pleasure to talk to Doctor. He is always positive, ebullient and has an impish sense of humour. I am always amused by the way he follows up his one liners with a loud laughter, as if providing a cue for others that it is time to laugh....
Doctor was talking to me about an exam that he took during his graduation days.
"There was a question in the exam about the medicine that you give to a horse which is suffering from an acute infection. I wrote the answer quickly and moved on to answer other questions. After about an hour, I realized that the answer that I had written to that question was wrong. So, like any student would do, I crossed out the original answer and wrote the new, correct answer."
"As you can imagine, I was pleased as a punch, for having realized my mistake just in time"
"Imagine my surprise, when the marks came, my Professor had given me Zero marks for that answer. I was livid. I barged into Prof's room, with all the text books to back my claim and demanded that he give me full marks for my correct answer."
"My Professor pacified me. He asked me to sit down. I sat down"
"Then he went on to give me an advise which I will never forget for the rest of my life"
We (other friends had joined us by now) looked at Doctor in expectantly.
"Assume that you have become a doctor, said my Professor, and a farmer brings a horse to you with an acute infection as mentioned in the question paper. You immediately diagnose the case and give a medicine. The grateful farmer leaves you with his horse. After about an hour suddenly you realize that the medicine you gave was wrong. Do you think you will get a chance to rectify to your mistake in real life?"
"In real life, by the time you realize your mistake, the horse would be probably dead because of your wrong prescription. That is the reason I gave you zero marks for your correct answer, said my Professor"
"That was an eye opener. I suddenly realized that many a time in your life, you will get situations which calls for the 'correct answer'. You do not have any scope for mistakes. Since talking to Professor, I have become very careful about how I respond to my challenges. "
Dr. Shirsat completed his anecdote.
When Doctor was talking to us, I remembered an incident that happened when I was working as an engineer in a Steel Manufacturing Company.
We were attending a training on Quality.
"Do you feel that we can achieve 100% quality in what we do? " asked the trainer.
General consensus was 'No'. 'How can we achieve 100% Quality? We are all human beings and prone to
make mistakes? Possibly 90% at best, you need to factor in human errors'.
We were all very happy that we had given a well thought out answer.
"Yesterday, I went to a doctor to talk to him about an impending operation. Being a quality person, I asked him the same question. He also gave me the same answer that you gave. He told me that while the chances of success was about 90%, I have to factor in 10% for human error. Do you think I will go to that doctor again?"
"Why is it that when it comes to us, we compromise on Quality by factoring in 'Human Errors', but when we expect things from others, we expect 100% Quality? Why can't we live up to our expectations of Quality from others?"
A food for thought, perhaps?