When Good Goals Go Bad

What damage can we cause when we over-emphasize certain goals without good controls?

I was in a major department store today, and I bought about $300 worth of clothing for myself and my family.  The salesperson who rang up my transaction made a very kind offer.  She suggested I do the transaction as a “pre-sell.”  She could take 25% off my total, and I would come back and pick up my purchases in three days.  Clearly this organization has placed a tremendous amount of focus on having big sales volume numbers on their special sale day three days from now.  But what good does it do for the company to delay collecting the money I was willing to pay today?  And why delay a customer’s satisfaction of taking home their purchases?  And, worst of all, doing all of this while reducing revenue by 25%?  Do you think senior executives know this is happening?

Giving the benefit of doubt, perhaps this is part of some bigger goal to drive more traffic to the store on the big sale day.  If so, it seems like an awfully misguided plan.  I, for one, would go to pick up my pre-sell purchases on some day after the big sale, so the plan wouldn’t work on me.  For people who do return on the sale day, they may find reduced prices on the items they bought and request further price reductions.

Maybe there is some other consciously-arrived-at explanation.  Whatever it is, I can’t imagine it is as compelling as the basic retailing priority of booking the most sales volume as possible as soon as possible.

Do you have any similar situations in your organization?  Are there any counter-productive front line behaviors being driven by over-emphasis on certain well-intentioned goals?  Would you know if there were?


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